Mutant HSP70i protein may offer potent treatment opportunities for vitiligo

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 Chicago Stritch School of Medicine



  1. Bamsegutt Viti Bamsegutt Viti Norway says:

    We are glad to hear this news 50,000,000 vitiligo affected ppl around the world waiting for the cure.

  2. emre polat emre polat Turkey says:

    A glimmer of hope in the treatment of vitiligo.
    Treatment of vitiligo is a pleasing news for all of us

  3. ANITHA BM ANITHA BM India says:

    I am feeling so hopeful reading this,I am sure all the vitiligo affected are with crossed fingers praying god for a successful cure.
    Thank You again

  4. jonny Norway jonny Norway Norway says:

    Thanks to all the reasearchers who have found this result! I'm begging everyday for a cure! I hope we can try it as soon as possible! Begging so much for that!

  5. Gerald Morris Gerald Morris United States says:

    A big shout out to the researchers! I hope a simple vaccination will change many lives!

  6. Adi Adrian Adi Adrian Romania says:

    How long this may take before appear ?

  7. Abishek Raj Abishek Raj United States says:

    I'm absolutely elated at the moment; this has given me the reason to live. Until I read this, my life was in a turmoil. Still, the destination is yet to 'completely' arrive. I've been dying everyday because of this terrible disease, it has taken a toll on me - psychologically, spiritually, physically - from all quarters. I pray not even my enemies get this horrid disease - let us get the cure as soon as possible, researchers! Hail researchers! Go, get me a cure! Love - Abishek

  8. Abishek Raj Abishek Raj United States says:

    And I'm in India, I have no idea why the computer chose the American flag. LOL.

  9. shaquil sacur shaquil sacur South Africa says:

    Good news.

  10. Anitha Reddy Anitha Reddy Canada says:

    I am praying that it should get rid of vitiligo permanently with this one simple vaccination .. it should come to the public ASAP!!! waiting for it desperately..

  11. Anitha Reddy Anitha Reddy Canada says:

    Congratulations.. and Thank you so much .. if it is going to work really.. you give tons happiness to millions sufferers and their loved ones. Really appreciate your work.. pls bring them to public ASAP

  12. Christian Smith Christian Smith Denmark says:

    This is amazing news. I've had this skindisorder for a couple of years now and I'm 17 now. Such a terrible thing. I hope this treatment will be the one that will cure everyone vitiligo now and in the future. No one deserves this thing. Keep pushing doctors!

  13. FENER BAHÇE FENER BAHÇE Turkey says:

    I hawe hope now..

  14. Giannis Spanos Giannis Spanos Greece says:


  15. Θεανώ Παπαεμμανουήλ Θεανώ Παπαεμμανουήλ Greece says:

    So many reasons to hope for an effective treatment without creams and lasers... living in a country with so much sun its so hard to try to be hidden from the sun all those years!! Congratulations !!! you will produce a lot of smiles with this treatment! your work is precious!!

  16. helena hamlin helena hamlin New Zealand says:

    All New Zealand vitiligo sufferers would like to thank you from the bottom of the world where our ozone layer is thinner, no pollution and our beautiful waters reflect harshly on the white patches.  I might be able to ditch the matching leopard skin swim wear after all.  Such dedicated scientists who make such a difference in the world.  Smiles to you all.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News-Medical.Net.
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