The Immune Tolerance Network (ITN) is currently developing a clinical trial to test a new treatment for vitiligo, an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks pigment containing cells in the skin leading to disfiguring white spots.
Approximately one percent of people around the world are affected by this condition that in many cultures carries with it significant shame and stigma. Currently available vitiligo treatments work to reverse disease symptoms over the course of a couple of years. However, in most cases the white spots reappear in the same locations after stopping treatment.
In an article published this month in Science Translational Medicine, John Harris, MD, PhD, and colleagues demonstrate that an antibody blockade of IL-15 signaling reverses disease symptoms in a mouse model of vitiligo. They also demonstrated that vitiligo-causing memory T-cells in both mouse and human skin require more IL-15 than other types of cells, thereby identifying a way to specifically target only the immune cells involved in the disease without impacting those responsible for protecting against infection.
An important difference with this new therapy is that the repigmentation following treatment lasted for months, suggesting that the IL-15 treatment approach may provide a lasting reversal of vitiligo symptoms. Based on these results, Dr. Harris will lead an ITN clinical trial to test this IL-15 antibody therapy in human patients as well as investigate how this therapy works.
Learn more by reading the original The Conversation article.