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The moment people notice their first strand of gray hair, they are heart broken as they realize that age is finally catching up with them. All of us have longed for a miracle drug to reverse graying of hair. This wishful thinking may finally become true!

In a world which pays more attention to superficial beauty rather than the beauty of the soul, people are under a constant pressure to look their best. Grey hair or patchy skin, in such a scenario, not only affects your looks but also has psycho-social implications. You may try to put up a brave front saying that graying of hair is a sign of wisdom, but deep in your heart you are emotionally distraught.

No wonder people go to any lengths to cover up their gray hair. Since times immemorial, numerous concoctions and chemicals have been tried to cover up the grays. Many a cosmetic companies selling hair dyes have reaped a fortune playing on this insecurity of people. Yet, apart from temporary solutions like coloring the hair, no satisfactory answer has been found to this problem. But all this may soon be history. Scientists claim that they have found a wonder drug that may not only reverse the process of graying of hair but may also serve as a treatment for vitiligo, a condition that had no permanent cure until now.

Graying of hair is due to a build up of hydrogen peroxide inside the hair follicles

In a breakthrough research published in the Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology journal (FASEB Journal), scientists from the Institute for Pigmentary Disorders, E.M. Arndt University of Greifswald, Germany and scientists from the Centre for Skin Sciences, the University of Bradford, United Kingdom have found that graying of hair has got nothing to do with attaining wisdom.

On the contrary, hair graying is purely a chemical process resulting from oxidative stress due to a build up of hydrogen peroxide inside the hair follicles. This causes the hair to bleach themselves from inside out.
The researchers could remove this hydrogen peroxide build up with the help of a compound called as PC-KUS, which was meant for local application and became active in the presence of UVB rays of the sunlight.

For their research, the scientists analyzed 2,411 patients from different countries who were suffering from vitiligo. Among these patients, 57 (2.4 percent) were found to be suffering from strictly segmental vitiligo (SSV) while 76 (3.2 percent) where found to be suffering from mixed vitiligo i.e. strictly segmental vitiligo along with non-segmental vitiligo (NSV). Careful microscopic examination of skin biopsies taken from these patients revealed that patients with SSV within a specific nerve distribution which involves skin and eyelashes showed the oxidative stress similar to that seen the more commoner NSV. There was a build up of hydrogen peroxide, reduced antioxidant activity of the enzyme catalase and thioredoxin reductase, and impaired activity of repair enzymes namely, methionine sulfoxide reductases A and B.

These patients were given cream for topical application. The cream contained ‘a modified pseudo-catalase’ called as PC-KUS, which is activated in the presence of ultraviolet B (UVB) component of the sunlight. It was observed that in patients who applied the cream and then spent sometime out in the sun, the pigmentation of the skin and the eye lashes returned.

Continue reading after recommendations

  • “Basic evidence for epidermal H2O2/ONOO−-mediated oxidation/nitration in segmental vitiligo is supported by repigmentation of skin and eyelashes after reduction of epidermal H2O2 with topical NB-UVB-activated pseudocatalase PC-KUS,” by Schallreuter K, Holtz S, Panske A, et al. Published ahead of print on April 29, 2013 in the American Societies for Experimental Biology journal, accessed on June 13, 2013
  • “Senile hair graying: H2O2-mediated oxidative stress affects human hair color by blunting methionine sulfoxide repair,” by Wood. J, Decker. H, Schallreuter K, et al. Published on Feb 23, 2009 in the American Societies for Experimental Biology journal, accessed on June 13, 2013.
  • Photo courtesy of Courtney Nash by Flickr : www.flickr.com/photos/cnash/2053617340/
  • Photo courtesy of Dan Tentler by Flickr : www.flickr.com/photos/vissago/4080699603/