Grey hair experiment returns colour

22:57, May 06 2013

Grey hair could be history - one day - following an experiment in which researchers were able to restore pigmentation to people with the skin condition vitiligo.

Researchers in Germany and the United Kingdom developed a cream which worked on five people with the condition, which causes the lose of pigmentation in patches of skin and hair.

It was the condition Michael Jackson said was responsible for changes to his skin colour.

The research builds on a study several years ago, which concluded grey hair is caused by a massive build up of hydrogen peroxide, due to wear and tear on hair follicles, which blocks the normal synthesis of the natural pigment melanin.

In the new study,  researchers had five volunteers apply a cream they developed to reduce the amount of hydrogen peroxide in the skin.

The cream worked to repigment the volunteers' skin and eyelashes, Popular Science reported.


Because the cause of vitiligo pigment loss is the same as one cause of greying in old age, the prototype cream could be a step toward a real anti-greying treatment.

The study was published in The FASEB (Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology) Journal, with a press release describing the proprietary treatment used in the study as a topical sunlight-activated compound called PC-KUS, a modified pseudocatalase.

"For generations, numerous remedies have been concocted to hide grey hair, but now, for the first time, an actual treatment that gets to the root of the problem has been developed," journal editor-in-chief Gerald Weissman MD said.

"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."