WEEKLY UPDATE: December 19, 2019
SUMMARY: Identification of 23 novel genetic variants associated with vitiligo, an autoimmune disease that causes loss of skin color.
OVERVIEW: The color of a person’s skin is determined by the amount of melanin, a dark pigment that is produced by cells called melanocytes. Vitiligo is a rare disease characterized by the destruction of melanocytes by the body’s own immune system. This causes patches of skin to lose their color. To better understand the genetic susceptibility to vitiligo, this genome-wide association study examined the genomes of over 44,000 individuals of European ancestry. The study identified 50 genetic variants of which 23 are newly discovered. Together, the identified variants explain about 17% of vitiligo heritability and many can be linked to the immune system and melanocyte function.
DID YOU KNOW? In the past, vitiligo was believed to be contagious and has lead to social stigma. Unfortunately, people who are affected by vitiligo today still encounter discrimination. Many debunked myths still persist. [SOURCE]