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Europe gives the green light for a new cream-based treatment to fight vitiligo.

“Vitiligo is an acquired disease, during which white spots appear on the skin. These depigmentations are more or less progressive, and more or less generalized”, recalls Inserm, which underlines the benign aspect of the disease, specifying its strong psychological impact for patients who suffer from it. The European Medicines Agency has just given the green light for a treatment against this skin condition.

The strong impact on the quality of life of vitiligo patients has motivated research. The white spots settle because the melanocytes (our cells which produce melanin, which gives its color to the skin) are destroyed and can therefore no longer produce the necessary pigment. It can also affect hair and body hair. But scientists have developed a so-called “anti-JAK” cream, thanks to a molecule called Opzelura. The principle consists in hindering the role of enzymes involved in the destruction of melanocytes. These enzymes are the Janus Kinases.

Improved facial pigmentation

After clinical trials, on patients who spread the cream twice a day for 6 months on the lesions, 30% noticed an improvement in the pigmentation of their face, the color was restored to 75%. After one year of treatment, this efficiency has been increased to 90%, still on the face. On the rest of the body, the cream is less effective note the researchers, who had published their results in the New England Journal of Medicine: 22% noted an improvement of at least 50%.

However, side effects have been noted, such as the appearance of acne where the cream is deposited, and itching. An oral version of the drug could emerge in the future, and prove to be more effective.

Sources: New England Journal of Medicine, Inserm, European Medicines Agency

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