With 45 million people worldwide suffering with vitiligo, doctors are conducting studies on a national level in search of a cure.
Doctors believe they are on the brink of the first ever medical license for a treatment specifically designed to cure vitiligo.
Vitiligo is a frustratingly, incurable condition in which white patches of skin appear over different areas of the body. This reaction is resultant of destroyed pigment producing melanocytes cells. Vitiligo can also adversely affect the mucous membranes (such as the tissue inside the mouth and nose) and the eyes.
With 1 in 100 British adults affected, Emma Rush of West London knows all too well the exasperating way of life vitiligo can lead to. Emma, who developed vitiligo, watched the color entirely vanish from her hands, as her eyes and mouth were surrounded by three inexplicable white bands of bleached skin.
The color progressively drained from her face, hands and arms — and it never came back.
‘It gradually got worse and worse,’ stated Emma, a successful lawyer and legal mentor accompanied by her husband and two daughters.
Emma attributes her path with vitiligo to her father, who has vitiligo on his arms and legs. She also believes it was the additional distress of her daughter being born with brain abnormalities.
Vitiligo society worker, Jennifer Viles states, “the effect of the condition can be very upsetting and people are treated differently; for some people it is considered legitimate grounds for divorce.”
Vitiligo is mentioned as an auto-immune condition, in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks itself. The disorder affects all races and both sexes equally and is a genetic disorder.
Current treatment options for vitiligo include: medicines (such as steroid creams), oral medications, ultraviolet therapy, and in some cases, skin grafts from a person's own tissues. Other treatments include sunscreens, permanent make-up, or skin tattooing.
Scientists have gained vast knowledge of vitiligo in recent years, expressly through gene research.
A new drug has been introduced during the latest research concerning 120 sufferers (from the US, France, Germany and Italy). Scenesse is currently under trial development. It is established of a compound called afamelanotide, which simulates the effect of melanocyte stimulating hormones and the process of melanocytes.
The tiny (grain of rice) sizes trial drug is familiarized with the skin three or four times a year. In past trials, Scenesse was used as a treatment for erythropoietic protoporphyria, a rare skin disease in which individuals endure no pigment at all.
Pearl Grimes, Professor of Dermatology at the University of California and lead investigator in the Scenesse trial stated, “we still need to analyze the results from the first group of patients and then test the drug in thousands more to establish it is definitely safe, but the results so far are very exciting.”
Another study published in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, implicated skin cell transplants to treat Vitiligo in the US. This analogous technique was also employed in India and Saudi Arabia.
The study conducted at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit removed a postage stamp-sized sample of skin from the upper thighs of 23 patients. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 60 and included multiple races.
On average, the skin recuperated nearly 45 percent of its original color.
Vitiligo affected the lives of the late Michael Jackson and other celebrities including chat show host Graham Norton and Jon Hamm, the famed actor of TV’s Mad Men.
The information on this site is not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment from a licensed medical practitioner. If you are experiencing a serious medical condition call your local emergency services or your doctor.