University of Bradford scientists have found a combination of water from the Dead Sea, the climate of Jordan and a special cream can significantly help sufferers of a debilitating skin disorder.
Head of the University's Institute of Pigmentary Disorders Professor Karin Schallreuter and her team accompanied 108 patients - from 16 different countries - suffering from Vitiligo to the Dead Sea in Jordan.
Vitiligo causes the skin to lose its colour in patches and is associated with a build-up of an oxygen-related molecule (hydrogen peroxide) in the skin. Sufferers can't fight the development of this molecule due to a shortage of an enzyme in the skin.
A cream developed by Professor Schallreuter and colleague Professor John Wood helps to replace the enzyme. Professor Schallreuter said: "We found that after only 21 days in Jordan the recovery of the skin pigmentation is significantly faster using a combination of these treatments."
Professor Schallreuter has been taking patients to the region for five years and so far more than 500 have benefited. Travelling with Professor Schallreuter and Professor Wood were nurse Angela Panske, PhD students Souna Elwary, Johanna Gillbro and Jennifer Spencer and social scientist Christian Krüger. Each patient would bathe in the Dead Sea for 15 minutes and, after a shower, apply the cream and sunbathe for one hour.This whole routine was repeated in late afternoon.
Professor Schallreuter added: "This is a unique experience for the group, because patients often feel isolated and suffer a great deal of psychological stress, even if they just have one spot of Vitiligo."
This year, thanks to a generous private donation, six out of 18 children received the treatment free of charge.
Also this year, Professor Schallreuter initiated an International Research Program in collaboration with the Jordan Hospital in Amman and Dr Nigel Lindsay, from the Department of Biomedical Sciences where the UK Institute is based.