Vitiligo Research: Progress without Animal Tests
Vitiligo is a genetic and/or environmental disorder that causes skin cells to lose their pigmentation, creating unsightly white patches. An estimated 2.5 to 5 million Americans, most notably pop star Michael Jackson, are affected by vitiligo, often a socially isolating condition.
Stella Pavlides was struck by this disease 30 years ago and began an earnest campaign to help others cope with its effects. Trained as a skin care consultant, she created a cream to hide the blemishes. At testing laboratories, however, she was taken aback by the treatment of animals used for product testing. She realized that some of the treatments she was working for were causing animals to suffer. The only existing vitiligo charity, the National Vitiligo Foundation, sponsored animal experiments. Frustrated with attempts to end this charity’s support of such experiments, Pavlides began her own organization in 1995, the American Vitiligo Research Foundation.
The newly-formed foundation is dedicated to supporting only nonanimal research, and indeed the best research on vitiligo does not involve animals at all. Her efforts have earned high praise from leading dermatology researchers at prestigious universities, including Harvard and the University of California, Los Angeles.
Beautipharm Biocosmetics, a manufacturer with a new line of skin care products developed specifically for vitiligo patients and others with sensitive skin, has agreed to donate 10 percent of company sales to her foundation. St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa is also a strong advocate of the American Vitiligo Research Foundation and has donated baseball memorabilia to help raise money.
Funding is always an uphill battle, though. Pavlides explains, “We’re always searching for donations. Unfortunately, with the National Vitiligo Foundation—which funds animal experiments—being so much larger, it’s a struggle to attract donors. But we can help people with vitiligo without harming and killing animals. We have key researchers on our side—now we just need to reach the general public.”
For more information, contact: American Vitiligo Research Foundation, Box 7540, Clearwater, FL 34618, 727-461-3899.