Scientists from the University of Massachusetts’ School of Medicine, in Boston, USA, have determined that the purpose of a T-cell class is to repair skin pigmentation in lab mice with vitiligo. This finding, reported in the Science Translational Medicine journal, may set the stage for a new vitiligo treatment that can produce more durable results than existing therapies.
Vitiligo is an autoimmune condition that occurs when T-cells target and disrupt the skin cells that are responsible for the pigmentation of melanin, leading to a discoloration of the skin and the onset of light skin spots.
The illness occurs in approximately 1% of the world’s population, or around 75 million individuals, and can create anxiety and distress in these people. Researchers have advanced vitiligo treatments that may provisionally restore pigmentation and color to the affected skin areas, but discoloration recurs in as many as 40% of patients in the first year after completion of therapy.
New vitiligo treatment is under research at the University of Massachusetts
In the present research, Jillian Richmond and her co-workers from the University of Massachusetts examined the skin damage in patients with vitiligo and identified them as having components that manifest as constituents of a receptor for the immune signaling molecule interleukin-15 (IL-15). The same were found in a murine vitiligo model as it presented the very same IL-15 receptor.
Subsequently, the scientists administered an antibody that addresses the IL-15 receptor for two weeks in lab mice models with vitiligo and found that the treatment resulted in the restoration of pigmentation in the animal models for the next two months.
Thus, this new study paves the way towards a new and more effective vitiligo treatment. However, more research in this regard and, consequently, trials in humans would be needed to validate the efficiency of this new therapy in people.