They claim that the drug, SMT D002, can reduce the flow of sebum - an oily substance produced by the skin and believed to be a significant cause - by 90 per cent.
At present, the drug is in pill form and is used to treat a condition other than acne but a pharmaceutical company plans to turn it into a cream for easier use.
Researchers believe it could become as effective a treatment as retinoic acid - a form of vitamin A - which is currently used to treat moderate to severe cases.
However, Roaccutane, the most widely used formulation of retinoic acid, has been linked to suicides among acne sufferers.
SMT D002 produced no significant side-effects when volunteers took it in pill form. Around three in every 10 patients taking retinoic acid do not respond to the drug, leaving many sufferers without an effective treatment.
Richard Pye, of Summit Corporation, based in Oxford, said the company was turning the drug into a cream because it was likely to work more quickly.
For commercial reasons Summit would not reveal the name of the existing drug form that they are developing their new acne treatment.
Richard Storer, the company's chief scientist, said: "It is a major drug, but we cannot reveal its name or the condition it currently treats."[via telegraph.co.uk]