5 Things to Know Vitiligo Research and Treatments in 2018
#2 Vitiligo Was Only Recently Recognized As An Autoimmune Disease
Until recently, there was a lot of debate surrounding vitiligo as an autoimmune disease. In vitiligo, the melanocytes (pigment cells) are abnormal and attract the immune system, which ends up killing them. Unfortunately, the immune cells are attacking normal cells that aren’t causing problems. Although vitiligo is an autoimmune disease, there’s a lot more to the disease and investigations are continuing. It’s important to recognize that it’s autoimmune disease because there are a lot of treatments being developed that alter and modify the immune system, which means they could work for vitiligo. Building a foundation on these existing treatments that can intervene early and cut off the immune attack can save time on research and ultimately bring patients treatments sooner.
#3 Research Can Be Categorized In Three Key Ways – And They All Matter
Research in vitiligo is broken down into three types. Basic research is a term used to describe research that happens with cells in a dish or on animal models, including mice. Translational research is done with humans and involves taking blood and skin samples for analysis. The final type is clinical research, which involves giving patients medicine to test new drugs or understand how vitiligo changes in people over time.
All three types of research are essential to fully understanding a disease. The University of Massachusetts Vitiligo Clinic and Research Center does all three types, integrating them to understand the big picture of vitiligo. Particularly, they’ve had success with translational research as more than 100 of their patients have been generous in donating blood and skin samples.