Skin Deep - Clinical & Cosmetic Dermatology Blog

Skin Deep is a blog for dermatologists and skin care professionals with focus on theoretical, cosmetic and aesthetic dermatology. This blog is associated with ‘Dermatologists Sans Borders’ one of the largest curated groups of skin care professionals on facebook. If you are looking for non-technical information, please visit

The Vitiligo Vaccine

Despite years of research, Vitiligo is still an enigma. Vitiligo could well be the most “serious” cosmetic disorder of the skin, in terms of the psychological morbidity it causes especially on pigmented skin. Even now we are not sure whether vitiligo is autoimmune, genetic, oxidative stress, neural, viral or a combination of all the above. Treatment of vitiligo, just like fashion, keeps changing the favourite, every now and then. Immunosuppressants had their time. Phototherapy was a clear favourite before the reign of melanocyte transplant began.

Česky: Splývající makulózní léze při vitiligu ...
Vitiligo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
All these years vitiligo was never viewed as a preventable disease. Though it is still early days, latest genomic techniques are suggesting that vitiligo is a genomic vaccine preventable condition! The vaccine could also improve established cases of vitiligo. A chaperone (molecules assisting the folding process of proteins) called heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) is implicated in the pathogenesis of vitiligo. A genetically modified HSP70 when administered as a vaccine prevented and cured vitiligo in mice.[1]

Let us hope that this heat shock protein successfully negotiates the long gap between mice and humans. Hope the vaccine will not ‘shock’ us by degenerating into another ‘hot’ fashion. I shall soon discuss the  latest trends in vitiligo genomics in my informatics blog. Meanwhile take a look at this new concept of ‘Vitiligo Potential Repigmentation Index’.[2]

A recent study showed that a combination of afamelanotide implant and NB-UV-B phototherapy resulted in clinically apparent, statistically significant superior and faster repigmentation compared with NB-UV-B monotherapy. The response was more noticeable in patients with SPTs IV to VI.[3]

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About Me

As a Dermatologist and Informatician my research mainly involves application of bioinformatics techniques and tools in dermatological conditions. However my research interests are varied and I have publications in areas ranging from artificial intelligence, sequence analysis, systems biology, ontology development, microarray analysis, immunology, computational biology and clinical dermatology. I am also interested in eHealth, Health Informatics and Health Policy.


Bell Raj Eapen
Hamilton, ON