Group promotes understanding, management of pigmentary disorders

November 1, 2005

(The PDA has) been working actively to increase scientific knowledge about pigmentary disorders, encourage well-designed research, and promote physician awareness and understanding to enhance patient care.

The Pigmentary Disorders Academy (PDA) was organized in 2003 to bring together an international group of experts that would be recognized as a global reference on these diseases.

Moving toward those goals, the PDA has already completed a number of important projects and its members are highly motivated to go forward with more ambitious plans.

"A key feature of the PDA is that it provides a venue for bringing together clinicians and researchers who are enriched with diverse experiences and perspectives. The resultant idea exchange has benefits for the individual members who can approach their personal research interests with broadened insights. But, there is also a group synergy that translates into advantages for the PDA as a whole and is measured by the comprehensive nature and efficiency with which we have completed our various projects," says Amit G. Pandya, M.D., professor of dermatology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dallas.

Publications

Since their last annual meeting in November, 2004, the members of the PDA have been working to finalize manuscripts that are comprising two special supplements to leading peer-reviewed dermatology journals. The articles in those publications are based on projects launched at the PDA annual meetings and cover such topics as the treatment of melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, a common lexicon for pigmentary disorders, guidelines for best practices in conducting clinical trials, and relationships between ethnicity and pigmentary disorders.

"We believe these publications should have a major impact on future research and patient management. The articles are the product of thorough and critical reviews of available literature supplemented by the valuable personal insights of the PDA members and will provide clinicians and researchers with excellent references on subjects where definitive information has been lacking," Dr. Pandya says.

New targets

Led by Jean-Paul Ortonne, M.D., PDA chairman and professor and chairman of dermatology, University of Nice, Sophia Antipolis, France, the six-member PDA steering committee convened in New York in April to plan the agenda for the third annual meeting.

Taking place in Hong Kong this fall, that program is including literature reviews on important, recent basic science, epidemiology, and clinical articles relating to pigmentary disorders and pigment cell biology. In addition, various members will be delivering short presentations on developments pertinent to their geographic region or of personal research interest, which help to underline the global diversity of pigmentary disorders and the associated implications for clinical management.

As a new topic, the steering committee decided to explore correlations between skin color, phototypes, and genetic ancestry.

"The existing Fitzpatrick phototype classification system is an excellent tool for predicting skin responses to sun exposure and phototherapy, but it may not be relevant for identifying reactions to other exogenous factors, such as medications or trauma. Rather, there is evidence those features may be better delineated with persons categorized by ethnoracial group," Dr. Pandya tells Dermatology Times.

As an example, he notes that among the cohort of individuals with skin phototypes II or III, persons of Asian ancestry are much more susceptible than their Caucasian counterparts to develop irritation when treated with a topical retinoid.

"By closely examining these types of issues, we may be able to uncover information leading to new classification systems that might be helpful clinically in helping dermatologists anticipate patient responses to various interventions," Dr. Pandya explains.

With an interest in describing the impact of ethnicity on pigmentary disorders, sessions at the 2004 meeting, which was in Rio de Janeiro, focused on individuals of Hispanic origin. Against the background of the 2005 meeting's Hong Kong location, PDA members Joyce Lim, M.D., Singapore, Sugbin Im, M.D., South Korea, and Henry Chan, M.D., Hong Kong, will lead discussions focusing on Asian skin, including a definition of what is normal, along with reviews of common pigmentary disorders, features of aging, and responses to topical treatments and procedures among Asians.