The Aussie Company That’s Bringing Hope to Skin Depigmentation Sufferers

Vitiligo and piebaldism affect millions of people around the world.

According to advocacy group Vitiligo Support International, around 1% of the world’s population have vitiligo to some extent. That’s tens of millions of people. The Vitiligo Association of Australia says it’s more like 1–2% of the population. It’s usually acquired, not genetic, though about 10% of sufferers have a family history of the condition.

Vitiligo is, as they come, a relatively high profile dermatological condition. Michael Jackson was diagnosed with it. Mad Men actor Jon Hamm says he’s been diagnosed.

‘America’s Next Top Model’ contestant Chantelle Brown-Young has it.

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Source: chantellewinnie.com
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And the ad below, which went viral when it was released in March last year, shows YouTuber Cheri Lindsay removing the thick layer of makeup she applies to hide her condition.

Piebaldism, on the other hand, is a rare genetic disorder. It causes white hair and skin in various sized patches. It can also cause heterochromia of the irises (multi-coloured eyes), deafness, and hormonal problems.

According to advocacy groups, vitiligo and piebaldism sufferers often report feeling embarrassed or depressed about their condition. Most have experienced discrimination or bullying. For example, most vitiligo sufferers are diagnosed before the age of 20. So they’re kids or teenagers when the disease appears. And we all know how lovely kids and teenagers can be about this kind of thing.

But now, thanks to one Aussie listed company, there’s hope for an effective treatment.

Avita Medical [ASX:AVH] [OTCMKTS:AVMXY] has announced the results of trials for their technology, ReCell®, as a treatment for loss of pigmentation. Avita CEO Adam Kelliher says ‘The researchers found a 78 percent response rate amongst the active group versus zero percentage in the control groups, showing real statistical significance and further validating the science behind our lead product, ReCell®.

What is ReCell®?

ReCell® is a special machine that takes a small skin sample and turns it into a sort of customised healing fluid. The fluid is known as RES™ — ‘regenerative epithelial solution’. It contains the cells and wound healing factors necessary for the treated area to regenerate.

Unlike other treatments, it only takes about half an hour for a medical practitioner to use ReCell® to make some RES™ from a patient’s sample. It can then be applied to the patient in the same appointment. There’s no need to send samples off to a lab and get them back weeks or months later.

The thing that makes ReCell® so interesting is that it has the potential to be used for a variety of different treatments. In addition to skin depigmentation, it can be used to treat acne scars, hypopigmented scars, surgical scars, and photo-ageing. It’s this flexibility that has earned it the (somewhat unappealing) nickname ‘spray-on skin’. This image from a British cosmetic clinic illustrates a variety of applications and outcomes:

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Source: Dr. Khan, Harley Street
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It can even be used to treat severe burns. British toddler Zed Merrick was treated for second degree burns using ReCell®.

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Source: huffingtonpost.co.uk
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ReCell® has been widely approved in Europe, Canada, China and Australia for several years. However, it’s in the process of being approved for the US — a very important potential market. The company expects to have patients enrolled for the US trial by the end of this year.

This vitiligo treatment study was done by the Netherlands Institute for Pigment Disorders. The boss of the Institute, Dr. Albert Wolkerstorfer, said that ‘these results add to the growing evidence base demonstrating that thecellsfrom the transplanted suspension directly enter the wound bed, proliferate, and successfully produce pigmentation in the depigmented area.’ The ‘wound bed’, in this case, is created by gently going over the treatment area with a CO2 laser. Otherwise known in Australia as laser skin ablation, or laser resurfacing.

And there are more studies like this to come. Avita’s VP of research and tech, Andrew Quick, said that the company will ‘continue to collaborate with prominent institutions to design and implement trials to high standards.’

Trials like this are good for medical professionals and sufferers, because they can be extra sure of the efficacy and safety. But they’re also good marketing tools for Avita. And clinics can use the stats in their own marketing material.

It seems that investors agree. Shares in Avita opened up at $0.081, up from Friday’s close of $0.077. They peaked at $0.086. At the time of writing, they’d gained a total of 5.19% for the day.

ASX AVH

Source: Google Finance
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With a market cap of just under $34 million (in Australia — another US$27.83 million in their ADR), they’re still technically a small-cap. By the way, if you’re interested in investing in a small but innovative medical company, don’t miss Sam Volkering’s report ‘Three Aussie Small-Cap Stocks for Every Portfolio’. In this report, Sam introduces an Australian company offering cutting edge medical diagnostic technology. He believes it could repeat its five-year growth rate. Click here to find out how to download your free copy of this report.

Eva Mellors
Contributor, Money Morning

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