Ruxolitinib Reduces Facial Vitiligo by Half in Clinical Study

Vitiligo image by Maria Sieglinda von Nudeldorf

A new cream, called ruxolitinib, effectively repigments the skin of people suffering from vitiligo.

Vitiligo image by Maria Sieglinda von Nudeldorf

A clinical study has just demonstrated the effectiveness of a cream (ruxolitinib) in the treatment of vitiligo, an autoimmune disease that depigments the skin. “Unfortunately, vitiligo is often stigmatized, which can have significant psychosocial consequences for patients,” says Dr. David Rosmarin, dermatologist at Tufts Medical Center and study director. Current treatments such as phototherapy, corticosteroids and calcineurin inhibitors have limited efficacy,” he adds, “and are expensive.

Facial vitiligo reduced by half

For two years, his team conducted the largest randomized study ever conducted on vitiligo. 157 Americans affected by the disease formed a cohort. One group applied ruxolitinib daily to the skin, while the other received only a placebo cream. Results: About half the patients using ruxolitinib saw their facial vitiligo reduced by half (50%), compared to 3% in the placebo group. The side effects of ruxolitinib were mild, including redness, irritation and some acne.

“Ruxolitinib has the potential to change the way we treat vitiligo. This treatment has effectively repigmented the skin and has very few side effects,” says Dr. Rosmarin. “We believe that an even better response to the treatment would be possible with the continuous use of Ruxolitinib over a long period of time, combined with phototherapy and sun exposure. We hope that this treatment will make a difference for the millions of people affected by vitiligo worldwide,” he concludes.

A disease that progresses in relapses

Around 50 million people (1% of the population) are affected by vitiligo worldwide, including actor Jon Hamm, model Winnie Harlow and actor Steve Martin. The disease affects all ethnic groups in the same way, but is most evident in those with dark skin.

This autoimmune disease occurs when pigment carrier cells die or are unable to function normally. It progresses in relapses, under the influence of various factors such as stress, anxiety, shock or psychological friction, and sometimes appears in contact with chemicals.


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