What’s the latest in vitiligo research and treatments? Living Dappled had the chance to find out in its first episode of “Ask the Experts” featuring Dr. John Harris, Director of the University of Massachusetts Vitiligo Clinic and Research Center.
Hosted on Living Dappled’s Facebook, the live interview highlighted five things to know about vitiligo research and treatments in 2018. A scientist and dermatologist, Dr. Harris called in from his office in the Worcester, Massachusetts research center and even gave a surprise tour at the end of the interview.
Find out what we learned from Dr. Harris below and view the video below to catch the full interview.
#1 Research In Vitiligo Has Been Going On For Over 2,000 Years
Over 2,000 years ago, patients in India were told to chew bavachee seeds and sit out in the sun. The seeds contained psoralen, a chemical used in a modern treatments for vitiligo. So while 2,000 years ago, people knew about vitiligo and were interested in treating it, it took another couple thousand years to for doctors and scientists to find out how it works and make treatment more efficient. The modern era of research started about 70 years ago when a couple of doctors and researchers took psoralen as a chemical and gave it to patients as a topical solution on the skin or as a pill and then gave them UVA light therapy – otherwise known as PUVA. First developed back in the fifties and sixties, PUVA has been replaced with UVB because PUVA has been shown to increase the risk of skin cancer and UVB works just as well or better, but doesn’t appear to increase the skin cancer risk.
Today, the pace has picked up and even more research is happening in large part due to an increased availability of tools and interest from pharmaceutical companies. Vitiligo specialty clinics are located all over the world with four or five in the United States. And vitiligo scientists and dermatologists are collaborating globally through organizations like the Global Vitiligo Foundation and conferences to combine efforts towards ultimately finding a cure.