Blocking memory immune cells cures vitiligo

20 July 2018
Presented by Isabelle Cochrane.

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Vitiligo is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks the pigment-producing cells of the skin, leaving behind pale white patches. Although not dangerous in itself, vitiligo can be disfiguring, causing a great deal of distress to people suffering from it, and sunburn to the depigmented skin can be a risk for skin cancer. There are treatments available for vitiligo, including topical creams that suppress the immune attack on skin cells and phototherapy, which uses UV light. But these treatments are time- and effort-consuming, particularly if large areas of the skin are affected.  Another problem is that they only work temporarily: in many patients, the disease returns when the treatment is stopped. Crucially, vitiligo tends to return to the same patches of skin where it first appeared, prompting a team of researchers to wonder whether this property may explain how the disease occurs, and point to a potential cure. Isabelle Cochrane heard how from the University of Massachusetts Medical School's John Harris...

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