Researchers at Tufts Medical Center in Boston have found that the topical cream ruxolitinib can be effective in reversing the effects of vitiligo.
Funded by biopharmaceutical research company, Incyte Corporation, the study found the application of ruxolitinib resulted in improvement of facial vitiligo symptoms. Ruxolitinib is used as an oral treatment for blood disorders.
Results of the clinical trial were presented by dermatologist Dr. David Rosmarin at the World Congress of Dermatology in Milan, Italy, and published online on the Tufts Medical Center website.
“Unfortunately, there is often a social stigma associated with vitiligo, and it can take a significant psychosocial toll on patients,” said Dr. Rosmarin, the primary investigator for the study. “Current treatments such as phototherapy, topical corticosteroids, and calcineurin inhibitors have limited efficacy, and phototherapy treatment can be a burden for patients to have to use a light box two or three times per week.”
The two-year study saw 157 patents enrolled at 30 sites across the United States. Participants in the study received daily or twice daily topical application of ruxolitinib or a placebo to the area of skin affected by vitiligo.
Roughly half of the patients, who received the highest dose of ruxolitinib, saw an improvement of nearly 50% in their facial vitiligo symptoms.
“Topical ruxolitinib has the potential to change the way vitiligo is treated. Not only is it effective at repigmenting the skin, but it has an excellent safety profile,” said Dr. Rosmarin. “We also are optimistic that many vitiligo patients may see an even better response with continuous ruxolitinib usage over an extended period of time, combined with phototherapy and sunlight exposure. Our hope is that this treatment ultimately will be a game-changer for the millions of people worldwide affected by vitiligo.”
Side effects of topical application of ruxolitinib included redness and irritation at the application site and mild acne.