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New Research Shows Ultraviolet Light Beneficial to Darker-skinned Patients

Posted: July 9, 2008

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The majority of patients treated at the center were diagnosed with either morphea or scleroderma. The maladies often cause discolorations of the thickened skin, usually red or purple in color, and therefore can be disfiguring. The discoloration may initially appear similar to a bruise that doesn't go away. The cause remains a mystery, and there is no known cure.

Jacobe has helped pioneer an experimental treatment that uses a highly specific range of ultraviolet light (UVA1) for some patients. Other treatments may include topical corticosteroids, antimalarials, systemic immunosuppressive medications and physical therapy.

In 2007, Jacobe launched the nation's first and only DNA repository for adults and children with morphea. Researchers are collecting blood and skin samples to investigate genes and blood markers associated with morphea. Other information is used to identify and clarify its prevalence, its demographic distribution among race, gender and age, and recurrence rates. Currently, more women are diagnosed with the disease, but other factors aren't known.

UT Southwestern dermatologists also hope to identify associated health problems that may be common for those with morphea, particularly rheumatic diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

Adapted from materials provided by UT Southwestern Medical Center, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.