Researchers find treatment for gray hair and vitiligo

Those monthly and costly visits to hair salons or home hair dyes to cover up gray hair may soon become a thing of the past, as a team of researchers have found a cure that will stop the process of graying hair, but more importantly will also help vitiligo sufferers.

Gray hair is the result of oxidative stress that causes hydrogen peroxide(a bleaching agent) to accumulate in the hair follicle. An enzyme called catalase usually breaks down hydrogen peroxide, but in aging hair the level of catalase is lower so that hydrogen peroxide continues to build up which results in damage to the melanocytes – the cells that give color to your hair and hair bleaches itself from the inside.

According to a joint group of researchers at Germany’s Institute for Pigmentary Disorders at E.M. Arndt University of Greifswald and the UK’s Centre for Skin Sciences at the University of Bradfordhave found a topical treatment that can stop the process.

This topical complex called PC-KUS (a modified pseudocatalase )which is UVB-activated reconverts hydrogen peroxide to water and oxygen. The research also revealed that the compound also helped people who suffer a skin condition known as vitiligo.

Vitiligo is skin disease that causes the skin to lose color(depigmentation). Vitiligo is not contagious, nor is it life-threatening, but it is often life-altering because of the social stigma that it carries.

The study was conducted on an international group of 2,411 patients with vitiligo and after treatment with the pseudocatalase , the pigment of the skin and eyelashes on the subjects returned.

The study was published in the FASEB (Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology) Journal.

For generations, numerous remedies have been concocted to hide gray hair,’ said Dr. Gerald Weissmann, the editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal. ‘But now, for the first time, an actual treatment that gets to the root of the problem has been developed.

'This condition, while technically cosmetic, can have serious socio-emotional effects of people,’ continued Weissmann. ‘Developing an effective treatment for this condition has the potential to radically improve many people's lives.’

Study author Professor Karin Schallreuter and a specialist in vitiligo said: "To date, it is beyond any doubt that the sudden loss of the inherited skin and localised hair colour can affect those individuals in many fundamental ways. The improvement of quality of life after total and even partial successful repigmentation has been documented."

At the moment it is unknown when the treatment will become available.

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