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Amino Acids Could Cure Vitiligo

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Recent studies have unveiled a surprising possible cure for vitiligo. New studies have found that a simple amino acid- HSP70i is able to cure vitiligo in mice and human tissues. Read more about this cure below.

Vitiligo is a condition that affects around 1 to 2 million people in the United States alone. Although the condition is rare, it is more common than many people realize. If you have vitiligo or think you might have it, the symptoms are obvious.

Vitiligo is simply the loss of pigmentation on an area of the skin- often the hands and face or near the lymph nodes- that shows up as white patches. Although there is no cure for vitiligo currently, researchers are examining new treatment options all the time.

One promising study was completed in 2013 by the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. This curious cure uses a mixture of amino acids that have been shown to be effective in reversing vitiligo in mice and in human tissue samples. This new study offers new insight into the cause of vitiligo and may provide a lasting cure for sufferers of this previously-incurable condition.

Find out more about the new research, and steps you can take to reverse vitiligo today, below.

Study Details

The researchers concluded their study in February 2013. The study examined how a mixture of amino acid proteins, called inducible heat shock protein 70 (also abbreviated as HSP70i), could potentially cure vitiligo. The protein uses 641 amino acids, and is a normal protein found in the body. The researchers modified the protein to create a mutant form of HPS70i. The mutant form supplants the natural HPS70i in the body, which changes the autoimmune response that causes vitiligo.

In animal studies, the protein was able to quickly reverse vitiligo in affected mice. Mice who had salt and pepper colored hair while suffering from vitiligo had completely black fur after supplementing with the protein for just a few weeks. The protein was given to the mice in vaccination form. The researchers also tested the formula on human tissue cells and were encouraged by the positive results seen in the tissue samples.

Currently, the university has submitted a patent application for the protein and are seeking patients for a clinical trial. The researchers are hopeful that this new protein treatment will be effective, as there are currently no long-term treatments that have been proven effective in reversing vitiligo. What works in one patient may not work in another. Some patients have seen helpful results by changing their diet, taking certain supplements, completing UV treatments, or reducing total inflammation in the body, but no one treatment works for all patients.

To date, the most effective treatment method is simply removing the affected skin and replacing it with normal-colored skin. In a fast-progressing case, even skin grafting is often not enough.

How It Works

A study from Newcastle University in 2012 examined the role of HSP70 in the body. Previous studies discovered that HSP70 has a higher expression with greater degrees of inflammation. However, the studies did not uncover what role the protein played in the process. The study from Newcastle found that HSP70 up-regulated in the late stages by the affected tissues. The researchers speculated that HSP70 protects the cells to counteract immune cytotoxicity. The researchers speculate that HSP70 counteracts the immune response in certain cells to prevent the over-activation of the immune system. This could explain why the mutant form of HSP70i is able to reverse vitiligo, which is generally recognized as an autoimmune disease.

What Else Could Help Vitiligo?

Currently, there are a variety of temporary treatment methods that are used to treat vitiligo, ranging in effectiveness.

Vitiligo Treatment Options 
  • Topical steroids
  • Skin grafts
  • Cover-up
  • Supplements
  • UVA Treatment

UVA Treatment

One of the most common treatments for vitiligo is UVA therapy plus an oral medication that makes the UVA treatment more effective (usually psoralen, trimethylpsoralen, or Oxsoralen-Ultra). UVA treatments are about 85 percent effective in about 70 percent of vitiligo patients with vitiligo on the arms, legs, trunk, neck, and face. UVA treatment usually does not work for vitiligo on the hands and feet. Spots that fully recover usually stay that way for about 10 years and spots that do not fully recover will start to return to white once the treatments stop. Side effects can include nausea, sunburn, dry skin, and hyperpigmentation.

Topical Steroids

Topical treatments are often used for vitiligo on the hands and feet and other areas of the body. They are effective for many types of vitiligo, but if the treatments do not start working within 2 months the steroids will not work at all. Corticosteroids and topical oxsoralen are both used topically to treat small patches of vitiligo.

Skin Grafts

This treatment simply replaces the non-pigmented skin with pigmented skin from another area. This treatment method is often used in combo with other treatment methods, like PUVA. This does not stop the spread of vitiligo, but for cases where the pigmentation loss does not spread, it can be a viable treatment option.


Cover up is not so much a treatment as simply a camouflage for the condition. Cover-up is applied to the white areas of the skin to match the rest of the patient’s skin.


There are many supplements that may provide benefit in patients with vitiligo, but for the most part, these treatment options are less studied than conventional treatments. However, in the few studies conducted on the supplements, surprisingly positive results have been found. Many of these medications work on reprogramming the immune system, which could be why they are effective at treating vitiligo. Read more about these supplements below.

Picrorhiza: Picrorhiza is a medicinal plant used for hundreds of years in Ayurvedic medicine as a treatment for immune dysfunction. Picrorhiza contains 6 compounds that have anti-inflammatory activity. One study from 1989 found that when study participants took picrorhiza in addition to the vitiligo drug methoxsalen the effectiveness of the medication was increased.

Vitamin B12 and B9: These two B vitamins are surprisingly effective at halting and reversing the progression of vitiligo when used in combination with other treatments. In a study from 2005 found that a combination of vitamin B12, B9, and vitamin C boosted the effectiveness of UVB treatments in vitiligo patients.

L-Phenylalanine: This amino acid may work similarly to HSP70i in treating vitiligo. When combined with light therapy, patients have a high likelihood of symptom reversal.

Khellin: Khellin is an extract of carrot, which has many of the same properties as the conventional vitiligo drug methoxsalen. Khellin alone has been shown to be an effective treatment for vitiligo. In 1982, a study published in “Dermatologica” found that nearly 80 percent of patients given khellin supplements showed improved symptoms that were stable 1 year later. 16 percent of these patients had 90-100 percent repigmentation and 23 percent had over 50 percent repigmentation.

Another study found that when combined with UVA treatment, patients taking khellin experienced at least 70 percent repigmentation. Adding these supplements in combination with other vitiligo treatments is currently the best treatment option out there. If and when HSP70i is available for human use, things could change.

Vitiligo: Hope for the Future

Vitiligo is a scary condition because it creates a total loss of skin pigmentation in small, white patches and up to almost the entire surface of the body. VItiligo can progress and has side effects like an increased risk for sunburn and developing skin cancer. Although there are no solid cures for vitiligo right now, there is new hope for a permanent cure thanks to the new research on HSP70i.

Currently, taking a combination of sun therapy and the right supplements have also shown good results for vitiligo patients. If you have vitiligo, there is no reason to despair. There is hope for the future and one day, possibly a cure.





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