A new Vitiligo treatment has been discovered in the form of a drug used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, that is already FDA approved.
Vitiligo is a skin disease that causes its sufferers to develop white spots on their skin, due to the fact that skin pigmentation on those regions is completely abolished. There are several degrees of aggressiveness for Vitiligo, as it could manifest with only a few white spots or with large portions of the body that become white.
While this disease is not life threatening, it is definitely life altering, as the people who suffer from it stand out immediately. The white spots could be localized on the arms, the legs, the torso or even the face, making it very hard to stick to a normal look. Furthermore, those white patches of skin are excessively sensitive to various stimuli. For instance,when exposed to sunlight, they are extremely prone to complicated sunburns at least.
The known treatment for Vitiligo often does not work, and so the long term course of treatment becomes intricate and its results unsure. However, Yale University scientists bring good news for Vitiligo sufferers, as they have conducted a successful study on the effect of a drug that is currently being used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
The drug is a Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor and the research that has lead to its FDA approval has revealed that is is also quite effective in the treatment of alopecia aerata, as it significantly improves hair loss. Therefore, the Yale scientists decided to try out the JAK inhibitor in a Vitiligo patient after having closely studied the route of its effects.
Their patient was a female, aged 53, who had been diagnosed with Vitiligo. The two Yale scientists, Dr. Brett King and Dr. Brittany Craiglow administered the JAK inhibitor to the woman for over a year, so that they could see if their theory was correct.
After only two months, the woman’s condition began to improve gradually, as the pigmentation in her skin started to reappear. Five months later, her white spots were almost gone entirely. This could be a major breakthrough and it could bring hope to Vitiligo patients everywhere.
“While it’s one case, we anticipated the successful treatment of this patient based on our current understanding of the disease and how the drug works. (…) It’s a first, and it could revolutionize treatment of an awful disease.”, said Yale University’s Dr. King.
Obviously, it could be a white before this course of treatment can be formally introduced into Vitiligo standard procedures, as further research will need to be performed, so that the effect of the drug is confirmed in other patients as well.
However, due to the fact that the JAK inhibitor has already been approved by the FDA, it will require less testing and it will possible that the complete procedures be performed along a shorter period of time.
This is not by far the first time that a drug is proven to have beneficial effects in the treatment of other conditions than those it was initially designed for. This happens because when a drug is administered, it affects the entire body and not only its target organ.
It remains to be seen when the JAK inhibitors will be introduced as Vitiligo treatment, but this discovery will change the lives of very many people.
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