WEDNESDAY, Oct. 12, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers say they've identified more genes linked to the autoimmune disease vitiligo, which causes patches of white skin and hair.
An international team of scientists pinpointed 23 new locations on the genome associated with susceptibility to vitiligo. That doubles the number of known genes connected with vitiligo, the researchers said.
Vitiligo may be related to several other autoimmune diseases, including thyroid disease, pernicious anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, adult-onset type 1 diabetes, Addison's disease and lupus, the scientists said.
Learning more about the causes of vitiligo could lead to treatment breakthroughs for the other conditions, the researchers said.
They found links between genes involved in vitiligo and some of the other conditions. While it's unclear whether this indicates shared causes, the findings suggest promising areas for future study, the researchers said.
The leader of the study was Dr. Richard Spritz, director of the Human Medical Genetics and Genomics Program at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
The findings were published Oct. 10 in the journal Nature Genetics.
The U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases has more on vitiligo.