Updated 11 June 2014

A cure for grey hair?

New research shows that grey hair and vitiligo can be reversed at the root.


Hair dye manufacturers are on notice: The cure for grey hair is coming.

That's right, the need to cover up one of the classic signs of ageing with chemical pigments will be a thing of the past thanks to a team of European researchers.

In a new research report published in The FASEB Journal people who are going grey develop massive oxidative stress via accumulation of hydrogen peroxide in the hair follicle, which causes our hair to bleach itself from the inside out.

Most importantly, the report shows that this massive accumulation of hydrogen peroxide can be remedied with a proprietary treatment developed by the researchers described as a topical, UVB-activated compound called PC-KUS (a modified pseudocatalase).

What's more, the study also shows that the same treatment works for the skin condition, vitiligo.

"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," said Karin U. Schallreuter, M.D., study author from the Institute for Pigmentary Disorders.

"The improvement of quality of life after total and even partial successful repigmentation has been documented."

How the research was done

To achieve this breakthrough, Schallreuter and colleagues analysed an international group of 2 411 patients with vitiligo.

Of that group, 57 or 2.4% were diagnosed with strictly segmental vitiligo (SSV), and 76 or 3.2% were diagnosed with mixed vitiligo, which is SSV plus non-segmental vitiligo (NSV).

They found that for the first time, patients who have SSV within a certain nerval distribution involving skin and eyelashes show the same oxidative stress as observed in the much more frequent general NSV, which is associated with decreased antioxidant capacities including catalase, thioredoxin reductase, and the repair mechanisms methionine sulfoxide reductases.

These findings are based on basic science and clinical observations, which led to successful patient outcomes regarding repigmentation of skin and eyelashes.

"For generations, numerous remedies have been concocted to hide gray hair," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., 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.

While this is exciting news, what's even more exciting is that this also works for vitiligo.


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