A new landmark study has revealed that a substance called PC-KUS may mean the end to both gray hair and the skin condition vitiligo, which causes patches of pigment-less skin.
Human hair often turns white or gray when hydrogen peroxide begins to accumulate in hair follicles as a result of oxidative stress, affecting most people as they move into middle age and beyond. The hydrogen peroxide essentially acts as a bleaching agent on the "new" hair growing from the follicles.
But scientists are heralding a possible cure for the telltale sign of aging, in a compound called PC-KUS. The science is complicated, but here's a simplified explanation of how PC-KUS works: When it is applied topically to hair, it converts hydrogen peroxide in the follicle to harmless water and oxygen, thereby blocking it from accumulating in the follicle. This allows the hair to retain its natural color, according to the study conducted last month by a group of researchers from the Centre for Skin Sciences at England's University of Bradford and Germany's Institute for Pigmentary Disorders at E.M. Arndt University of Greifswald. And once PC-KUS has been applied, it can even cause hair to go back to its original pigmentation, which the study claims it may also be able to do for sufferers of vitiligo.
The landmark study is published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.
In studying skin biopsies of vitiligo patients, researchers found low levels of the catalase enzyme, which breaks down hydrogen. PC-KUS serves as a "pseudo-catalase," and when researchers exposed it to sunlight, they saw pigment return to patients' eyelashes and skin.
Continue Reading Below
"Validation of the basic data stems from successful repigmentation of skin and eyelashes in affected individuals," reads the study's detailed abstract, which adds, "Our findings offer new treatment intervention for lost skin and hair color."
Now all we need is a cure for baldness.