A modified pseudocatalase, a new compound that reverses oxidative stress may provide a cure for loss of skin or hair color, i.e. gray hair or vitiligo, researchers from the United Kingdom and Germany reported in The FASEB Journal in 2013.

The need to use hair dyes to cover up a classic sign of aging – gray hair – may soon be a thing of the past.

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PC-KUS is said to restore skin color in patients with vitiligo

Scientists from the Institute for Pigmentary Disorders in association with E.M. Arndt University of Greifswald, Germany and the Centre for Skin Sciences, School of Life Sciences at the University of Bradford, United Kingdom, explained that people’s hair goes gray because of massive oxidative stress caused by a build up of hydrogen peroxide in hair follicles. This causes hair to bleach itself from the inside out.

The researchers found that this massive build up of hydrogen peroxide can be reversed with a UVB-activated compound called PC-KUS, a modified pseudocatalase. The research team developed this new proprietary treatment.

The authors added that PC-KUS treatment is also effective for patients with vitiligo. Vitiligo is a long-term skin problem that produces white depigmentation patches that develop and grow in certain sections of skin.

Study author, Karin U. Schallreuter, M.D., said:

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

Schallreuter and team analyzed 2,411 patients from several countries with vitiligo. Fifty-seven (2.4%) of them were diagnosed with SSV (strictly segmental vitiligo) and 76 (3.2%) were diagnosed with mixed vitiligo, which is SSV plus NSV (non-segmental vitiligo).

They discovered that those with SSV with a specific nerval distribution involving eyelashes and skin showed the same oxidative stress found in the much more common general NSV. General NSV is associated with decreased antioxidant capacities, including thioredoxin reductase, catalase, and the repair mechanisms methionine sulfoxide reductases.

They found that PC-KUS treatment led to successful patient outcomes – patients’ pigmentation in their skin and eyelashes was restored – i.e. they recovered their original skin and hair color.

Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal, said:

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.”

This report is a follow-up on a 2009 study that explained why our hair turns gray. Scientists from the Universities of Bradford, England, and Mainz and Luebeck, Germany, explained in The FASEB Journal (March 2009 issue) that graying hair has absolutely nothing to do with wisdom. They wrote that “Going gray is caused by a massive build up of hydrogen peroxide due to wear and tear of our hair follicles.”

Hydrogen peroxide eventually blocks the normal production of melanin, the natural pigment responsible for hair color, as well as skin and eye color.