Clinical trial at Wake Forest Baptist helps rare skin disease

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Clinical trials at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have been helpful to reduce symptoms of a rare skin disease.

The skin disease, a rare genetic disorder called erythropoietic protoporphyria (EPP), causes a reaction when exposed to light and the sun.

Tim Gerringer of Elon has dealt with EPP since he was a child. Gerringer wears gloves to drive, long sleeves and wide-brimmed hats.

If the body is exposed to too much light the body can tingle and progress to a burning sensation and swelling.

Dr. Herbert Bonkovsky said the clinical treatment has not been approved in the United States.

"This drug has not been approved in the U.S. It's been approved recently in Europe; it's been available in Switzerland and Italy for about five years," Bonkovsky said. "Based on the study that we and others in this county have just completed, the application has gone into the Food and Drug Administration requesting approval.”

During Gerringer's eight-month trial, he was able to enjoy some outdoor activities without extreme protection.

The treatment given essentially allows the body to create more melanin and tan.

"I could mow and things like that without having to be so covered and basically seem more what I call normal," Gerringer said.

If you are having symptoms of EPP and want more information call officials at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center at (336) 713-1442.