Researchers at the Tehran Royan Institute are taking advantage of Iran's open embrionic research programs. A team lead by Dr Baharvand claims to have pioneered a procedure that uses the patient's own stem cells to cure vitiligo.
This research focuses on induced pluripotent stem (IPS), adult stem cells which are made to act like embryonic ones - they gain the ability to become any cell in the human body.
Rather than managing the symptoms of the disease, they would be used to regenerate the affected parts of the body.
Vitiligo affects between 0.1-2% of the population. Some recent studies have calculated the incidence among Italian males to be 0.17 and among Indians 1.84%. In 50% of the patients, vitiligo onsets before the age of 18. It can occur at any age but usually peaks between ages 10-30.
There have been cases of vitiligo occuring even after the age of 50. Everyone can get vitligo, there are no racial, ethnic or socioeconomic associations. Vitiligo patients can be diagnosed with two variations of the disease:
One of the promising vitiligo treatments relies on piperine, the main compound in black pepper to stimulate pigment cells (melanocytes) reproduce faster thus repigmenting the white patches.
At present, piperine research focuses more on mice than on humans but nevertheless news that scientists are getting involved into the vitiligo cause, can only lead to positive results for us, the patients.