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"Speaking of Vitiligo..."

I am a physician-scientist who focuses my clinical and research efforts on vitiligoI am a physician-scientist who focuses my clinical and research efforts on vitiligo, and therefore I think about this disease a lot – all the time, in fact. Therefore I thought it would be helpful to share my thoughts with others who are interested in vitiligo as well, particularly the patients who suffer from it and their loved ones. I want to make clear that while I am affiliated with many vitiligo organizations, my comments in this blog are my own, and do not reflect the opinions of those organizations. In addition, my research is largely focused on finding new treatments, and ultimately a cure, for vitiligo. This work is supported by a number of sources, including pharmaceutical companies, which by definition creates potential conflicts of interest. In full disclosure, here is a list of our vitiligo research supporters. Please know that, to the best of my ability, all of my comments are unbiased reflections of my understanding of vitiligo as both a physician and scientist. I do not permit advertisements on my website, and do not endorse companies or products that may advertise on other sites that may be referenced here.

Coronavirus and vitiligo

Posted On: Saturday, March 14, 2020 Posted By: John E. Harris Tags: Vitiligo

Many are asking me whether individuals with vitiligo are at higher risk for contracting the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, which is responsible for an ongoing pandemic. In general, the answer is no. I figured that I would take the time to write this blog while I and my family are “socially distancing” ourselves in order to slow the spread of the pandemic in our little part of the world. So, we’re stuck in our house and thinking about everyone out there who is worried about what this pandemic means for them and their loved ones. Read more...

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What is Villaris Therapeutics and how will it help my vitiligo?

Posted On: Friday, February 07, 2020 Posted By: John E. Harris Tags: Vitiligo, Vitiligo Research, Vitiligo Treatment

I recently had the opportunity to start a new company entirely focused on developing a new treatment for vitiligo. We named the company Villaris Therapeutics, and the name was the concept of the board members, not me. I say that because it incorporates my last name, Harris, and I want it to be clear that it wasn’t my idea, although I am honored by it. Truth is, the long list of names I came up with for the company were either already taken, or weren’t that good, to be honest. So here we are, Villaris Therapeutics, which stands for VItiligo, IL-15, and HARrIS. Now that’s out of the way, I’ll tell you a little more about the process of getting funding for the company, the team we assembled to lead it, and our mission....

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Maybe it’s NOT vitiligo!

Posted On: Monday, January 20, 2020 Posted By: John E. Harris Tags: Vitiligo

Vitiligo is an autoimmune disease of the skin that causes white spots. It’s pretty distinctive and is frequently diagnosed by a dermatologist simply by looking at it, often with the aid of a special light called a Wood’s lamp. But I’ve seen patients in my Vitiligo Clinic, some who’ve traveled a very long distance (even other countries), who didn’t actually have vitiligo...

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Update on IL-15 vitiligo treatment

Posted On: Monday, January 13, 2020 Posted By: John E. Harris Tags: Vitiligo, Vitiligo Research, Vitiligo Treatment

Many have asked recently for an update about the treatment to target IL-15 to induce durable responses in patients with vitiligo. There was a lot of excitement around this approach when we published our paper about a year and a half ago in the summer of 2018 (read about it here), especially from me! The idea was that autoimmune memory cells form within vitiligo spots and are responsible for the return of disease at those exact same spots when treatments are stopped...

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Happy New Year!

Posted On: Tuesday, December 31, 2019 Posted By: John E. Harris Tags: Vitiligo, Vitiligo Research, Vitiligo Treatment

As 2019 winds to a close, I am reflecting on everything that has happened in the past year, and it’s almost too much to name! At the risk of sounding like my Thanksgiving post, there is much to be thankful for. I celebrated Christmas with my family and friends, and as always, they asked, “How’s the lab?” and “How’s work?”. The answer was a resounding, “Everything is great!”, and I meant it. Here’s why..

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Incyte topical ruxolitinib phase II trial – 52-week results

Posted On: Monday, December 30, 2019 Posted By: John E. Harris Tags: Vitiligo, Vitiligo Research

I previously wrote a blog to give the details of a Phase II, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial to test topical ruxolitinib cream as a treatment for vitiligo. The trial was sponsored by the pharmaceutical company Incyte and recruited 157 patients from 26 sites all over the US. There I provided the 24-week results, while this post will serve to update everyone on the continued improvement up to 52 weeks, or 1 year.

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Thanksgiving 2019 – a time to be vitiligo thankful all around!

Posted On: Wednesday, November 27, 2019 Posted By: John E. Harris Tags: Vitiligo, Vitiligo Research

As I sit in my living room preparing for a busy Thanksgiving Day tomorrow, I am thinking about all that I have to be thankful for. Of course, my family and friends top my list, but after them my vitiligo community certainly rises to the top. It has been a wonderful year for those who have vitiligo as well as those of us who care about them, including their family and friends, but also vitiligo physicians and researchers like me who are trying to make their lives better.

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The Vitiligo Clinic is growing!

Posted On: Friday, August 09, 2019 Posted By: John E. Harris Tags: Vitiligo

As many of you already know, in addition to our large research laboratory focused on developing new treatments for vitiligo, I direct the UMass Vitiligo Clinic, where we diagnose and treat patients with vitiligo from all over the world. As some of you also know, there is a long wait for an appointment in the clinic, partly because so many patients want to be seen and partly because appointments are limited to only one afternoon per week. The limited time is because the research keeps me very busy, and I can’t carve out more time for the clinic.

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World Vitiligo Day 2019

Posted On: Monday, June 24, 2019 Posted By: John E. Harris Tags: Vitiligo

World Vitiligo Day 2019 again saw over 300 attendees participate in the program, this time descending on Houston, Texas to celebrate together. Last year we and VitFriends Boston hosted the program at my institution UMass, and we had a blast! This year it was HOT, as only Texas can be, however the weather didn’t dampen our enthusiasm for spending quality time with each other, as in previous years. Read more...

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Cutting-Edge Developments in Vitiligo Clinical Trials

Posted On: Saturday, June 15, 2019 Posted By: John E. Harris Tags: Tofacitinib, Vitiligo, Vitiligo Research, Vitiligo Treatment

I am excited to announce outstanding results of the first large, randomized clinical trial to test a treatment for vitiligo! For some background, we and a few others reported that the JAK inhibitors tofacitinib and ruxolitinib were effective treatments in a small number of patients with vitiligo. The rationale for using these treatments was based on the cytokine signaling pathways responsible for driving vitiligo. Read more...

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