London: A new hand-held electric `gun` which fires ultraviolet light to treat the skin condition vitiligo has been developed by scientists.
The new gadget works by firing ultraviolet light at the skin which is thought to suppress cells of the immune system.
Vitiligo is characterised by discoloured patches of skin caused by a loss of skin pigment - melanin, the dye-like substance that gives skin its colour and protects it against the sun.
The condition occurs when the immune cells mistakenly attack melanin, the `Daily Mail` reported.
A clinical trial is underway at Nottingham University, where scientists are comparing the hand-held devices against a placebo in 21 patients.
The patients will have to use either an active or sham device at home for four months.
An earlier year-long study of 27 people who were exposed to UV light three times a week found that 90 per cent of patients showed significant improvement from the skin condition.