New research led by a School of Medicine team suggests that vitiligo, a skin pigmentation disorder, is an autoimmune disease. This groundbreaking finding could point the way to treatment.
The results, published in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), also question the common belief that people with vitiligo are more susceptible to melanoma.
Richard A. Spritz, MD, head of the medical school’s human medical genetics program, led researchers; the team studied genes of about 1500 people with vitiligo and 2800 people who did not have the disease.
Seven genes that showed up in people with vitiligo were associated with other autoimmune disorders such as Type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Thanks to cooperation among patients and researchers around the world, "this is by far the largest study of vitiligo ever done," Spritz says. Vitiligo Support International also played a key role in the study by helping recruit participants.
See the New England Journal of Medicine paper >>