Happy New Year! A lot has happened in our lives in 2017, and the vitiligo community is no exception. While I have become more and more busy since I started this blog, I do recognize its importance to those who read it, and heard the requests for updates on vitiligo research and clinical care. So here is one, looking back at 2017 and forward to 2018!
As I have written before, more and more pharmaceutical and other influential companies are taking interest in vitiligo, and are committing their time and resources to developing new and better treatments for disease. We joined a multicenter trial this year, initiated by Incyte, to test a new topical medication for vitiligo patients. You can read more about this drug here. The rationale for this trial was largely based on our research, and this is the first clinical trial to test a new immune-targeted therapy in 15 years! It heralds a new era for vitiligo patients that will see more and more clinical trials seeking subjects for the studies.
That means for those who are interested, there will be more and more opportunities to join these trials, which usually provide free treatment and also compensate subjects for their time. To help enroll vitiligo patients for the trial, I sent out a newsletter to our subscribers with all of the details including how to sign up in mid-November. If you didn’t receive this newsletter and would like to get updates like this, please sign up here on our website. More importantly, it means that the gears are in motion to create new drugs for vitiligo, and that there will be much better approved treatments for patients even outside of trials within the next few years.
We also celebrated at the 2nd annual World Vitiligo Day Conference last June, hosted by V-STRONG (Vitiligo STRONG) in Detroit, MI. We had a wonderful panel of speakers, including those with vitiligo (Lee Thomas, Erika Page, Jazz Colgan, and others), as well as a panel of vitiligo experts from around the world. We even conducted some important research at the meeting by surveying attendees about their vitiligo – the results are critically important to conducting future clinical trials. Read more about the meeting here.
Even more exciting to me is that, along with Valarie Molyneaux and VITFriends Boston, we will host the World Vitiligo Day Conference 2018 right here at UMass Medical School, where I direct the Vitiligo Clinic and Research Center. Our theme for 2018 is “Children, Research, and Hope for the Future!”. It is shaping up to be an outstanding event with a great panel of speakers, and we expect the largest attendance to date! Speakers include Lee Thomas, April Star, Ferrell Phelps, and others, as well as a large panel of vitiligo expert dermatologists again, even more than last year, to talk about their research and what it means for the future of vitiligo patients. One session will be dedicated to children, including expert clinical advice from Dr. Pearl Grimes, psychological insight from Dr. Lisa Schuster (a vitiligo sufferer and child psychologist), April Sawyer (who started vitiligo pen pal group), and April Star (a child model who has vitiligo). Read more about the event here.
In addition to all these things, our Vitiligo Center has grown, adding more experts to the Clinic and researchers to the laboratory (read about them here). We are treating more vitiligo patients than ever, and pursuing more research questions, which are leading to new insights that should result in more treatment options in the future. It was an exciting year in 2017, and we’re expecting even bigger and better things in 2018! Stay tuned for more updates.