Spotlight on Research for 2000

March 2000 (historical)

New NIAMS Grant Chases Vitiligo Susceptibility Gene Location

A newly awarded grant from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases will attempt to map the locations of genes that put people at risk for vitiligo, a common skin pigmentation disorder characterized by white patches of skin. The study will examine two groups of families with vitiligo in the United States and the United Kingdom.

The project, under the leadership of Richard Spritz, M.D., at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, aims to map the location of suspected autosomal dominant and other vitiligo susceptibility genes in families with four or more affected relatives. Pairs of siblings affected by the disease will also be studied. Finding the locations of these susceptibility genes, say the investigators, should speed up the identification and characterization of the genes themselves.

Vitiligo, thought to be an autoimmune disorder, affects 2 to 5 million people in the United States. The disease destroys cells called melanocytes that make pigment in the skin, mucous membranes, and the retina of the eyes. Vitiligo is particularly significant in dark-skinned populations, where pigmentary disfigurement can produce social stigmatization.

The mission of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases is to support research into the causes, treatment, and prevention of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases, the training of basic and clinical scientists to carry out this research, and the dissemination of information on research progress in these diseases.

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), leads the Federal medical research effort in arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases. The NIAMS supports research and research training throughout the United States, as well as on the NIH campus in Bethesda, MD, and disseminates health and research information. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Information Clearinghouse is a public service sponsored by the NIAMS that provides health information and information sources. Additional information can be found on the NIAMS Web site at http://www.niams.nih.gov/.