Protein HSP70i

Loyola University of Chicago researchers have developed a genetically modified protein with potential in reversing the effects of vitiligo in mice.

The group of researchers led by Dr. Caroline Le Poole described their findings in an article published in  "Science Translational Medicine"

Previous studies performed by this group of researchers have shown that the HSP70i protein plays a vital role in the autoimmune response that causes vitiligo.

Afamelanotide implants and their use as vitiligo treatment

There are many theories regarding the causes of Vitiligo and the process through which this disease spreads, however studies have demonstrated that the loss of cutaneous melanocytes can be caused by decreased circulating and lesional skin levels of the naturally occurring melanocortin peptide hormone, alpha-melanocyte (α-MSH).

The Koebner response in vitiligo

The Koebner phenomenon refers to the development of new lesions following skin trauma. This occurs in patients with certain skin disease in areas of traumatized but otherwise normal skin. The new lesions are clinically identical to those in diseased skin.

Koebner is not common only to vitiligo. It has been observed in other common skin conditions such as psoriazis, eczema and other rarer diseases. In fact, Heinrich Koebner, the dermatologist who first described it, made his initial observations on patients with psoriasis appearing at the site of horse bites or tattoos.


Vitiligo, a family business

There comes a time in the life of every vitiligo patient when we ask ourselves: „Will my children develop vitiligo ?
The frequency of vitiligo among siblings is 6.1% which is about 18 times higher then the usual population frequency, suggesting a major genetic component in the disease. The probability that a pair of twins will both have vitiligo is 23% indicating that a non-genetic component also plays a role. 


Vitiligo Treatment with excimer laser

The excimer laser was invented in the 70s and uses a combination of two gases and electrical stimulation to create a laser light in the UV range. Currently, the most widespread therapy for the repigmentation of vitiligo spots  relies on narrow band UV radiation with a wavelength of 311nM (nbUVB), emitted  by a medical light bulb. This light can also be produced using excimer technology, with the advantage of laser’s precision, controlled dosage and good response from the skin.

Can vitiligo affect hearing ?

Pigment cells are present in the inner ear and play a vasomotor function. Melanin,  a compound secreted by pigment cells facilitates the passage of substances from one side to the other of the inner ear and helps maintain cell membrane equilibrium.

Some studies have shown that the auditory function was decreased in patients with pigment disorders such as vitiligo, especially in the high frequency range. The loss of pigment cells that occurs in vitiligo can decrease the cochlear health. (Note. The cochlea is the auditory portion of the inner ear)


Vitiligo versus melanoma

Having a look at a recent press release I found out that a Loyola University Hospital researcher is focusing her research on finding a treatment for vitiligo. The interesting part is that she says this could also lead to a treatment for melanoma, a form of skin cancer.

In vitiligo, the immune system goes into overdrive and attacks pigment cells, causing the skin to lose color. On the other side, melanoma could be treated by reviving up the immune system to start attacking malignant pigment cells.