Vitiligo is a skin disorder in which the pigment-producing cells of the skin (melanocytes) are absent or demonstrate a lack of activity. As a result, lighter depigmented patches of skin (vitiliginous lesions) appear in different parts of the body due the lack of melanin (pigment). The exact cause of vitiligo is unknown, but it is generally recognised that an autoimmune component plays a role in this disease. Between 0.1-2% of the global population is affected by vitiligo impacting all races. Vitiligo causes significant psychological and emotional distress.
Vitiligo is traditionally separated into two clinical forms: generalised vitiligo and segmental vitiligo (SV), which present with distinctive clinical features and natural histories.
Generalised vitiligo (previously referred to as nonsegmental vitiligo)* is the most common form of the disease, accounting for 72-95% of cases. The vitiliginous lesions are usually symmetrically distributed and new patches may appear throughout the patient’s life. The disease is progressive with flare-ups. Vitiligo is frequently associated with personal or family history of autoimmunity.
SV is characterised by a unilateral distribution that may totally or partially match a dermatome (area of skin with innervation from a single spinal nerve) and has an earlier onset and a rapid spread. SV occurs in a minority of patients and is thought to be more frequent in pediatric patients; it may account for 30% of childhood cases. Autoimmune association is rare with SV.
The main goal of treating vitiligo is to achieve an arrest of the depigmentation or even arrive at repigmentation of the unpigmented lesions. Many treatment options exist but clinical challenges persist, as not all patients respond to available therapies and relapse is common.
CLINUVEL commenced a pilot Phase II trial of SCENESSE® (afamelanotide 16mg) as a repigmentation therapy in patients with generalised vitiligo in the USA and Europe in the second quarter of 2011. SCENESSE® is being evaluated for its ability to activate melanocytes within the vitiliginous lesions and achieve repigmentation in combination with NB-UVB in patients with vitiligo. The first treatment results from this programme, study CUV102, were announced in December 2012. In CUV103, a proof-of-concept study in Singapore, a more pronounced clinically meaningful recurrence of pigmentation for total body and areas of the head and neck was observed. In October 2023 CLINUVEL announced the start of a Phase III clinical trial, CUV105, evaluating SCENESSE® in vitiligo.
Understanding Vitiligo – Causes and Theories
Take a deeper dive into vitiligo – the possible pathogenesis of the disease and its effects.
Vitiligo Communiqué IV
In this Vitiligo Communiqué IV, we expand on the long-term consequences, both physical and psychological, of vitiligo on patients, with a focus on phototypes IV–VI, and attempt to dispel some of the mischaracterisations surrounding vitiligo.VIEW PDF
Vitiligo Communiqué III
Previously considered merely a cosmetic related condition, research now clearly demonstrates vitiligo is commonly associated with comorbidities including severe anxiety and depression. The third and final VITILIGO COMMUNIQUÉ, takes a look at the psychological impact of vitiligo on patients.VIEW PDF
Vitiligo Communiqué II
In the second VITILIGO COMMUNIQUÉ, CLINUVEL looks closer at the role of narrowband UVB (NB-UVB) as the only standard of care at present in vitiligo, both the segmental and generalised form of the disease.VIEW PDF