Blister Transplants Prove Advantageous for Vitiligo

Researchers compared suction blister technique to cultured melanocytes, other treatments

FRIDAY, Sept. 21 (HealthDay News) -- A study comparing different techniques for treating vitiligo found advantages in using suction blister transplantation compared to transplantation of cultured autologous melanocytes. The research was published in the September issue of Dermatologic Surgery.

Rafal Czajkowski, M.D., Ph.D., of Nicolaus Copernicus University in Bydgoszcz, Poland, and colleagues used four types of treatments on 40 patients with stable vitiligo on the backs of their hands and feet and on their shins. One group received cultured melanocyte transplant on one limb, with psoralen and ultraviolet A therapy (PUVA), and PUVA only on the opposing limb. The other group received suction blister transplantation and PUVA on one limb, and cryotherapy plus PUVA on the other. After six months, the results of the different treatments were compared.

The researchers were unable to cultivate sufficient melanocytes to conduct transplantation for 10 of the 20 patients in that group. In the suction blister group, the grafts performed were successful in all patients, confirming earlier research demonstrating this technique's ease and effectiveness, according to the authors. Cryotherapy plus PUVA, and PUVA alone, were found to be ineffective.

"Although the current study demonstrates a relatively effective treatment for vitiligo, the etiology of the disease needs to be understood before completely effective and routine therapies can be established," writes E. Helen Kemp, Ph.D., of the University of Sheffield in the U.K., in an accompanying commentary. "Particularly, the immune reactions against melanocytes that may cause recurrent depigmentation must be further studied."

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