PARK CITY, UTAH – At the annual meeting of the Pacific Dermatologic Association, Dr. Sancy A. Leachman offered a top 10 list of new agents and technologies for the treatment of vitiligo.
No. 10: Ultraviolet A1 (UVA1) phototherapy
Dr. Harvey Lui at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver is leading a phase II trial to evaluate the potential for UVA1 to induce repigmentation within vitiligo patches and to assess the side effect profile of the treatment. “I think it might work,” said Dr. Leachman, professor and chair of dermatology at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), Portland.
No. 9: Ginkgo biloba
The use of ginko biloba 40-60 mg 2-3 times per day, 10 minutes before a meal, was mentioned in a Cochrane Review of vitiligo treatments published on Feb. 24, 2015. “I think I’m going to give this a try in people who have failed other treatments and see if I can get some response,” Dr. Leachman said.
No. 8: Red light
Dr. Lui is leading a randomized phase II trial of low-intensity and high-intensity red light versus no treatment for vitiligo patches. Treatments will be given twice weekly for 10 weeks, with follow-up assessments at 4, 8, and 12 weeks post treatment.
No. 7: Micrografting
A novel suction blister device known as the CelluTome epidermal harvesting system uses heat and slight vacuum pressure to harvest healthy epidermal skin tissue without damaging the donor site. Dr. Leachman characterized the technology as “semiautomating the process of suction graft transplantation.”
No. 6: The ReCell device
Manufactured by Avita Medical, this investigational autologous cell harvesting device is used after CO2 abrasion and enables clinicians to create regenerative epithelial suspension with a small sample of the patient’s skin. A phase IV trial in the Netherlands is underway to assess the efficacy and safety of autologous epidermal cell suspension grafting with the ReCell device after CO2 laser abrasion, compared with CO2 laser abrasion alone and no treatment, in patients with piebaldism and stable vitiligo.
No. 5: Topical Photocil
In a pilot study sponsored by Applied Biology, researchers are enrolling patients with vitiligo to assess the safety and efficacy of Photocil. The primary outcome measure is the Vitiligo Area Severity Index (VASI). “When this cream is activated by sunlight, it degrades into narrow-band and UVB light, so you can put a topical cream on that will administer narrow-band UVB only in that spot,” said Dr. Leachman, who is also director of OHSU’s Knight Melanoma Research Program. “That’s amazing to me.”
No. 4: Afamelanotide
This is an analogue of a melanocyte-stimulating hormone. A randomized study conducted at two academic medical centers found that the combination of afamelanotide implant and narrow-band UVB phototherapy resulted in statistically superior and faster repigmentation, compared with narrow-band UVB monotherapy (JAMA Dermatol. 2015 Jan;151(1):42-50).
No. 3: Abatacept (Orencia)
This is a soluble fusion protein consisting of human cytotoxic T-lymphocyte–associated antigen 4 (CTLA4), which prevents T-cell activation. A phase I trial is underway at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston to determine if weekly self-injections of the agent lead to clinical improvements of vitiligo lesions. The primary outcome measure is change in repigmentation with abatacept therapy based on the VASI score.
No. 2. Simvastatin
The notion of its use is based on STAT1 inhibition reducing interferon-gamma–dependent activation of CD8-positive T cells, according to Dr. Leachman. The concept has been successful in a mouse model, and a study in humans was recently completed by Dr. John Harris at the University of Massachusetts, Worcester. “What we have is the ability to apply an existing drug (Simvastatin) to the process and see if it works,” she said. “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could give a statin and improve vitiligo?”
No 1: Tofacitinib
This is a Janus kinase inhibitor commonly used for rheumatoid arthritis. According to Dr. Leachman, Janus kinase inhibition prevents STAT activation, “which prevents [interferon]-gamma production, which reduces activation of CD8-positive T cells via CXCL10 binding to CXCR3,” she said. A case report demonstrating its efficacy in a 53-year-old patient was recently published in JAMA Dermatology by Dr. Brett A. King and Dr. Brittany Craiglow, dermatologists at Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn. “I’m hopeful that this [agent] will be made into a topical cream because these drugs do have substantial side effects,” Dr. Leachman said.