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Press Release
Modified protein could become first effective treatment for vitiligo
Thursday, February 28, 2013

This image shows mice that have developed vitiligo. Credit: Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine

This image shows mice with vitiligo that have been vaccinated with mutant HSP70 protein. Credit: Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine researchers have developed a genetically modified protein that dramatically reverses the skin disorder vitiligo in mice, and has similar effects on immune responses in human skin tissue samples.

The modified protein is potentially the first effective treatment for vitiligo, which causes unsightly white patches on the face, hands and other parts of the body. Loyola University Chicago has submitted a patent application for the protein, and researchers are seeking regulatory approval and funding for a clinical trial in humans.

I. Caroline Le Poole, PhD, and colleagues describe the modified protein in the journal Science Translational Medicine. Le Poole is a professor in Loyola's Oncology Institute and in the departments of Pathology and Microbiology and Immunology.

About 1 million Americans have vitiligo, and the condition affects about 1 in 200 people worldwide. Vitiligo is most noticeable in people of color, but also can be distressing to Caucasians. Vitiligo is an autoimmune disease, in which the immune system goes into overdrive and kills pigment cells, which give skin its color.

Previous studies have found that a protein called HSP70i plays a vital role in the autoimmune response that causes vitiligo. (HSP70i stands for inducible heat shock protein 70.)

HSP70i consists of 641 building blocks called amino acids. Le Poole and colleagues genetically modified one of these amino acids to create a mutant HSP70i. This mutant protein supplants normal HSP70i, thereby reversing vitiligo's autoimmune response.

Resarchers Jeffrey A. Mosenson and Andrew Zloza gave mutant HSP70i to mice that developed vitiligo, and the results were striking. Mouse fur – affected by vitiligo -- had the coloring of a salt-and-pepper beard. But when the mice were vaccinated with mutant HSP70i, the fur turned black.

"The mice look normal," Le Poole said.

Some of the effects seen in mice also were seen in human skin specimens.

There are no long-term effective treatments for vitiligo. Steroid creams sometimes return some color to affected skin. But this treatment also thins the skin, and can cause streaks or lines. Bright lights, similar to tanning booths, also can return color, but can cause sunburns and other side effects, including vitiligo. Skin grafts transfer skin from unaffected areas to the white patches, but can be painful and expensive. None of the existing treatments effectively prevent vitiligo from progressing.

Le Poole and colleagues wrote that mutant HSP70i "may offer potent treatment opportunities for vitiligo."


Loyola University Health System:

Thanks to Loyola University Health System for this article.

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This press release has been viewed 5744 time(s).


Guest Comment
Wed, Apr 10, 2013, 1:45 am CDT

I would like to particpate in the clinical trial for this treatiment. Please let me know how I can be part of it

Carlos Valdez

Guest Comment
Sat, Apr 20, 2013, 6:28 pm CDT

Me gustaría particpar en el ensayo clínico para este treatiment. Por favor, hágamelo saber cómo puedo ser parte de ella (

mark goggin

Guest Comment
Sun, Apr 21, 2013, 10:57 am CDT

I would like to take part in this clinical trial for vitiligo, please send me details of how i can apply.



Guest Comment
Fri, Apr 26, 2013, 5:58 pm CDT

I would like to participate in the clinical trial for the vitiligo treatment, please let me know how I can be part of this.


Guest Comment
Tue, May 07, 2013, 1:23 am CDT
I have a 10 yr old Fair skin child boy with this disease has progressed in hands arms face an trunk also loss in hair pigment; I would like more information on clinical trials
Derek Brewart

Guest Comment
Tue, May 07, 2013, 10:35 pm CDT

appreciate if you can send me the info for the clinical trial.   i would like to particpate. 


my email address is


Thanks so much.


Derek from Southern California

Brittany LaRue

Guest Comment
Thu, May 16, 2013, 2:39 am CDT

I would like to be part of this clinical trial also.

Brittany L.


Guest Comment
Thu, May 16, 2013, 10:41 pm CDT
I would like more information about this.
Stephen Harris

Guest Comment
Sat, Jun 08, 2013, 3:35 am CDT

I think you should also include other countries into this trial and I am down in Australia and have had this condition pretty bad for the past 25 years. Please send me any details involved in trials to


Guest Comment
Tue, Jun 11, 2013, 10:53 am CDT


I Cant believe im reading this so excited to know how close you are with a cure.  ive had it for 37 years and not a problem with it now, but will be so interested in helping with any future clinical trials.  I live in Chicago,Ill. and reached at



Guest Comment
Wed, Jun 12, 2013, 6:06 pm CDT

This is very exciting, pleas send more information and would love to be part of this trial


Guest Comment
Thu, Jul 11, 2013, 9:28 pm CDT

I am beyond excited to read this. I am 31, and have had it since the age of 4. I have it all over my body....It is now patching my beard, and its been quite difficult maintaining decent looking facial hair. coloring products make it too tough when the hair is short, and its just embarrassing. I would do anything to participate in a study. I live In Mass.

Christian Smith

Guest Comment
Sat, Jul 13, 2013, 3:47 am CDT

Hi. My name is Christian and I'm 17 years old. I've been having vitiligo for about 5-6 years now. Currently I live in Denmark and I would love to participate in any clinical trial that would be available in Denmark. Please contact me for more info in the furture on my email:


Sincerly Christian Smith.

Christina Ortiz

Guest Comment
Sun, Jul 21, 2013, 8:41 am CDT
I would very much like to particpate in the clinical trial for this treatiment. Please let me know what I need to do to participate. My email address is Thank you!
Alison Dosek

Guest Comment
Thu, Jul 25, 2013, 7:54 pm CDT

Hello, this is definitely positive information.  My 9 year old daughter has beautiful olive toned skin with now bright white spots here there and everywhere.  She's such a beautiful girl and I hate for her to have to have this condition.  I know things could be worse, but whatever I can do as a parent to help her, I will do.  I would think that if every person affected with vitiligo even donated $1.00 to a fund to help this study progress, that could lead to amazing results.  Please contact me at if you are looking for participants in this study.  Thank you so much. 

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