NHS prescribes a drug for arthritis and scientists at Yale believe that this drug can cure the skin condition vitiligo. Vitiligo is a disease that causes the loss of skin color in blotches. The extent and rate of color loss from vitiligo is unpredictable. It can affect the skin on any part of your body. It may also affect hair, the inside of the mouth and even the eyes.
It affects around 650,000 people in Britain. Vitiligo affects people of all skin types, but it may be more noticeable in people with darker skin. The condition is not life-threatening or contagious.
Tofacitinib, a drug prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis, has been proven by Yale University to clear up the problem of vitiligo.
Tested on a 53 year old patient, who took the medicine for 5 months, found the condition visibly reduced. Only a few spots remained on her body, and all had gone from her face and hands where otherwise she had prominent white spots.
Dr Brett King, assistant professor of dermatology and principal investigator of the research at Yale University, US stated that while its one case, we were hopeful that this treatment will be a success based on the understanding of how the drug works.
It’s a first, and it could revolutionize treatment of an awful disease. This may be a huge step forward in the treatment of patients with this condition.
Dr King now hopes to begin a larger clinical trial of this drug and a smiliar drug, ruxolitinib, to study the effectiveness of these on the treatment of vitiligo.
Current treatments, such as steroid creams and light therapy, are only partially effective in reverse the problem.
Last year Dr King showed that tofacitinib could also be used to treat alopecia, baldness, which is caused when the body’s own immune system becomes confused and starts to attack hair follicles. However tofacitinib stops the chemical pathway that triggers that immune response allowing hair to grow back.
Researchers speculated since vitiligo is also caused by a similar immune response the same treatment should also work to restore the color as it restored the hair.
“This case exemplifies the ways by which advances in basic science can guide treatment decisions and ultimately benefit patients,” added Dr King.
“As we better understand the mechanisms of different diseases, targeted therapy becomes possible, and existing medications can be repurposed and/or new medications created for diseases with limited, if any, treatment options.”
Professor David Gawkrodger, a spokesman for the British Skin Foundation Spokesperson, said the research was ‘promising’ but warned it was too soon for patients to be demanding Tofacitinib from their doctors.
Although a possible and promising solution, these drugs are still being evaluated for possible side effects.
“The drugs may well be a pointer to how vitiligo will be managed in the future, but further evaluation by dermatologists, the pharmaceutical industry and regulators is needed.”
The most prominent celbroty affected with this disease was Micheal Jackson.
The research was published in the journal JAMA Dermatology.