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UK Clinical Trial to Test Treatments for Vitiligo

  • Published: 2016-06-18 (Revised/Updated 2018-03-15) : Author: Nottingham Clinical Trials Unit, University of Nottingham : Contact: +44 (0)115 31586,
  • Synopsis: We are looking for people who have at least one patch of vitiligo that has appeared or worsened over the past year.

Vitiligo (vit-ih-LIE-go) is a disease that causes the loss of skin color in blotches. The extent and rate of color loss from vitiligo is unpredictable. It can affect the skin on any part of your body. It may also affect hair, the inside of the mouth and even the eyes. The only sign of vitiligo is the presence of pale patchy areas of depigmented skin which tend to occur on the extremities. The patches are initially small, but often grow and change shape. Research suggests vitiligo may arise from autoimmune, genetic, oxidative stress, neural, or viral causes. There is no known cure for vitiligo but many treatment options are available including topical steroids, calcineurin inhibitors, and phototherapy.

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"We hope this study will provide better evidence to support the use of one or both of these treatments in the future."

People who suffer from the skin condition 'vitiligo' are being encouraged to take part in a clinical trial led by The University of Nottingham's Centre of Evidence Based Dermatology and the Nottingham Clinical Trials Unit.

Vitiligo is a condition that affects the pigmentation of the skin, causing white patches to appear on the skin of people of all ages and skin colours. It affects up to 1 per cent of the population worldwide and up to now, treatment has been limited and the effectiveness of some treatments has not been tested in large studies.

The HI-Light Vitiligo Trial, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)'s Health Technology Assessment Programme, aims to test two commonly used treatments - steroid cream and light treatment using a hand-held narrow band UVB light. The research team is looking for 440 children (five years and above) and adults with vitiligo across the UK to take part in the study, using treatments for nine months and then being followed up to assess long term treatment effects. Volunteers will be given one of three combinations of treatment:

Participation in the study will involve five hospital visits over nine months, but the treatment will be mainly carried out by the patient or carer in their own time at home. Patients will also be asked to complete a diary about their vitiligo and some questionnaires.

Leading the study, Dr Jonathan Batchelor said:

"We are looking for people who have at least one patch of vitiligo that has appeared or worsened over the past year. Although steroid cream and light treatment are commonly used to treat vitiligo, we don't know how well they work and whether they work together. Also hand held light-therapy units are not available on the NHS at the moment, so if we find that they work well they could become a home-based NHS treatment option in the future."

Professor Kim Thomas from the University's Centre of Evidence Based Dermatology added:

"Vitiligo is not painful, but the white patches that appear on the skin can have a devastating impact on patients, especially for those with dark skin. It can be particularly upsetting when the vitiligo starts to spread rapidly for no apparent reason. Many patients are keen to find effective treatments for their vitiligo, but the options currently available in the UK are quite limited. We hope this study will provide better evidence to support the use of one or both of these treatments in the future."

Around 15 hospitals around England, Scotland and Wales are involved in the trial. More information about the trial and details on how to apply to take part can be found here including a training video for participants.

The HI-Light Study is being coordinated by Nottingham Clinical Trials Unit at The University of Nottingham. The study is funded by the Health Technology Assessment Programme of NIHR.

More information is available from Garry Meakin (Trial Manager) or Jen White (Trial Coordinator), Nottingham Clinical Trials Unit, University of Nottingham on +44 (0)115 31586,

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