A team of European researchers developed a topical, UVB-activated compound called PC-KUS, which they claim can reverse oxidative stress responsible for causing gray hair and vitiligo.
The pigment melanin determines the color of our skin, hair and eyes. Loss of melanin in the skin and hair causes vitiligo (white patches on the skin) and graying of hair.
AdvertisementOur hair goes gray due to massive oxidative stress caused by accumulation of hydrogen peroxide in the hair follicle. This causes our hair to bleach itself from the inside out. Karin Schallreuter and colleagues, from the Institute for Pigmentary Disorders, E.M. Arndt University, Greifswald, Germany; and Centre of Skin Sciences, School of Life Sciences, University of Bradford, U.K, developed a photo-activated compound (PC-KUS) that could reverse this build up of hydrogen peroxide. This proprietary treatment works for vitiligo as well.
'To date, it is beyond any doubt that the sudden loss of the inherited skin and localized hair color can affect those individuals in many fundamental ways,' said Schallreuter, the lead researcher of the study. 'The improvement of quality of life after total and even partial successful repigmentation has been documented.'
This study analyzed the effects of the medication on an international group of 2,411 patients with vitiligo, where 2.4 percent were diagnosed with strictly segmental vitiligo (SSV), and 3.2 percent were diagnosed with mixed vitiligo (SSV plus non-segmental vitiligo NSV).
Non-segmental vitiligo is the most common type of vitiligo in which the patches often become visible equally on both sides of the body, with some kind of symmetry. These symmetrical patches generally appear on skin that is exposed daily to the sun.
Segmental vitiligo, on the other hand, is rare, non-symmetrical, and usually tends to affect dorsal roots of the spine. It is more stable, less erratic, and responds well to topical treatments.
The researchers of this study found that patients who have SSV within a certain nerve distribution involving skin and eyelashes show the same oxidative stress as observed in the NSV, which is associated with decreased antioxidant capacities of enzymes like catalase and other antioxidants.
The researchers treated the patients with PC-KUS (a modified pseudocatalase) and found that the treatment led to successful re-pigmentation in their skin and eyelashes, that is, the original color was restored.
'For generations, numerous remedies have been concocted to hide gray hair, but now, for the first time, an actual treatment that gets to the root of the problem has been developed. While this is exciting news, what's even more exciting is that this also works for vitiligo. This condition, while technically cosmetic, can have serious socio-emotional effects of people. Developing an effective treatment for this condition has the potential to radically improve many people's lives,' said Gerald Weissmann, Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal.
This study is a follow up on a 2009 study published in the journal FASEB which described the cause of age-related graying of hair. According to the study findings, low levels of enzyme that breaks up hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen (catalase) cause the build up of hydrogen peroxide. These hair follicles also have low levels of enzymes MSR A and B, which are used to repair the damage. Further complicating matters, the high levels of hydrogen peroxide and low levels of these enzymes, disrupt the formation of an enzyme tyrosinase (which produces melanin in hair follicles), thus causing graying of hair.