Dr Spritz’s vitiligo genetic study
Dr Spritz reports:
We have now received a major grant from the U.S. National Institutes of Health to carry out the largest vitiligo research study ever undertaken, the international VitGene consortium genome-wide association study, aiming to identify susceptibility genes for generalized vitiligo, the most common pigmentation disorder. This study offers the best hope to discover the true biology underlying vitiligo, and thus to open up paths to investigate new treatments and cures.
The project will have four phases, which altogether will take about 4 years. Phase 1, taking place now, is the initial genome-wide screening phase, testing 610,000 genetic markers in 1500 Caucasian patients and 1500 unaffected individuals (“controls”) from the USA, Canada, and United Kingdom (UK). About 80% of the samples come from our laboratory and about 10% each from Prof. Gawkrodger’s group at Sheffield University (UK) and Profs. McCormack and Wallace’s group at the University of Florida. Phase 1 will cost almost three million dollars, plus another four hundred thousand dollars to purchase the necessary specialized laboratory instrumentation, so if you know any philanthropists, please tell them about us.
Phase 2, to take place 1-2 years from now (sample collection going on now), will follow up promising results from Phase 1 in another ~2750 different Caucasian patients and ~2750 controls from the USA, UK, and continental Europe, as well as in ~400 additional Caucasian vitiligo families (patients and their relatives).
Phase 3 (sample collection going on now) will test genes proved out in Phases 1 and 2 in other, non-Caucasian groups, including USA and Colombia Hispanic/Latino, African-Americans and Nigerian blacks, middle-eastern Arabs, Indians and Pakistanis, and various Asian groups. Currently, VitGene includes 38 investigators in 21 countries (USA, Canada, Colombia, UK, Belgium, Holland, Sweden, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Czech Republic, Hungary, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Nigeria, Pakistan, Japan, S. Korea, and Taiwan), with additional sites being considered.
Thanks to the many of you who have already sent in study entry questionnaires and saliva samples, and thanks to NIAMS for funding our work. We very much appreciate your support! However, we still need additional samples from BOTH patients and unrelated, unaffected ‘controls’ of Caucasian, Hispanic/Latino, African/African-American, Indian subcontinent, and Asian ethnic origins. Please participate if you haven’t done so already. Click here to Participate.
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Thanks again, and very best wishes to you all.
Richard A. Spritz, MD
Professor and Director
Human Medical Genetics Program
University of Colorado Denver
Aurora, CO 80045 USA