What we’ve been doing!
In September, I went to meet with Lachlan Hay, Head of Global Network and Communications and Akash Bhagawati, the Communications Manager at Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals Limited. It was very interesting to catch up on what’s happening with Scenesse, and to chat about the world of vitiligo in the UK and beyond. Plus they gave me some really useful tips on starting out as a patient support charity in this area, always gratefully received, and I’m very grateful to them for their time and all the information they shared with me.
Most importantly for vitiligo patients, Scenesse® is still in development as a possible treatment, and so isn’t available to patients right now, in any form. It has been developed for a condition called erythropoietic protoporphyria (EPP), a disease which causes severe reactions to UVA and visible light. Further trials for it as a re-pigmenting agent in vitiligo have yet to take place and trials are likely to be in the United States next. Check out this interview with Lachlan here with more information about the drug, and the trials.
SCENESSE® contains Alpha-Melanocyte Stimulating Hormone (α-MSH). This is a naturally occurring peptide hormone which is released by skin cells in response to the stimulation by ultraviolet radiation (UVR). α-MSH has a very short half life (seconds) in the blood stream, sufficient to reach and stimulate other skin cells (melanocytes) which in turn produce and release melanin, a dark brown pigment.
SCENESSE® is delivered via a tiny implant that’s put under the skin in one place on your body. It’s approximately the size of a grain of rice – I was lucky enough to hold a placebo implant in my hand! It’s good they made it very clear it wasn’t the active drug as I would have been tempted to steal it…
Increased pigmentation of the skin appears after two days and lasts up to two months. It is most effective in those people with a darker skin – Fitzpatrick Types 5 & 6.
I think that the next decade for vitiligo will involve enhanced treatments at the very least, and hopefully, through a better understanding of the cause of the disease, scientists will work closer to an eventual cure. It’s interesting that drugs that work for other conditions have also re-pigmented people, and Scenesse is just such a drug. We wish it every success in the next stage of the drug trials.
One of the discussions we had was about what I planned to do with the charity. At the moment, I’m waiting for registration with the Charity Commission, which I hope will then enable us to build up the charity to provide services, particularly for young people and for those who struggle with the condition.
At the moment we don’t have subscribers paying money to the charity, as I don’t want to have reserves which aren’t used for any specific project or for research towards a cure or improved treatment. What this means though is that we have no money, but we are very principled! Not sure if that’s a good thing…
However one of the first things I’d like to do is to start a proper patient-led database, available to others online, of treatment they’ve received, consultants they’ve seen and with a rating and feedback on how the consultation worked for them. Watch this space!