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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.

COVID Vaccination and Vitiligo

Posted On: Saturday, January 02, 2021


2020 was a difficult year for so many of us, with COVID-19 creating a pandemic that we have not seen for over 100 years. In the spring, many wondered how having vitiligo would influence the effect of the virus, such as getting more severe effects from the virus, or whether vitiligo might get worse during an infection with it.

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Patterns of Vitiligo

Posted On: Friday, May 29, 2020

I have always thought that vitiligo was beautiful, including the many patterns that form on individuals with different skin colors, shades, and hues. Vitiligo can appear on any part of the body, in many different shapes and forms. It is most frequent on the face and genitals, then the hands and feet, and then the rest of the body. One woman outlined all of her spots with a pen, which I thought was really cool and I included her picture in my blog about vitiligo and tattoos here (with her permission, of course). Since I have seen many patients over many thousands of visits in my Vitiligo Clinic, I have seen a LOT of patterns, but I still see new ones all the time. It’s one of the things that makes my job a whole lot of fun!

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IN HER WORDS – Jillian Richmond

Posted On: Monday, May 11, 2020

This is the 4th in a series of blog posts I’m calling IN HER WORDS, and today will focus on Dr. Jillian Richmond. Dr. Richmond was a postdoctoral fellow in my lab who discovered that resident memory T cells are responsible for relapse of vitiligo after stopping treatments, and that we could target IL-15 to get rid of them and treat vitiligo. She now is an Assistant Professor in our department, and she’s studying other immune-mediated skin diseases like morphea and lupus. She has her own blog that you can read here. In addition to her research program, she has a family, loves to teach students, and is an advocate for women in STEM! She’s a great model for how to be productive and high-achieving, while maintaining a strong work-life balance. Read more...

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

Posted On: Friday, February 07, 2020

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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Update on IL-15 vitiligo treatment

Posted On: Monday, January 13, 2020

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

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

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

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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Cutting-Edge Developments in Vitiligo Clinical Trials

Posted On: Saturday, June 15, 2019

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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Recap of 2018, our most exciting year yet!

Posted On: Friday, December 28, 2018

Happy New Year from Vitiligo Clinic & Research Center

This has been a tremendous year for us in the Vitiligo Clinic and Research Center at UMass Medical School. It’s fun to reflect at this time and to think about the hard work done for vitiligo and its potential global impact! I am currently on a much-needed vacation with my wife’s family near Chicago, and I’m using some of my downtime to think and write this summary about the year. There were some ups and downs, but mostly ups, and next year promises to bring even more excitement. Read more...

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