November 14, 2008
Researchers May Be Able To Reverse Hair Color Loss
Scientists say they may now be able to do something about people whose hair has turned white because of illness or extreme stress.
However, the technique still had to be tested on humans and would not reverse the natural graying process.
Researchers from Manchester University and Lubeck University, in Germany, used a molecule to stimulate the pigment responsible for hair color.
Experts say the development is an encouraging breakthrough.
They took hair follicles from six women aged between 46 and 65 and mimicked two conditions which can turn hair white - a skin disease known as alopecia areata and stress-related disorder telogen effluvium.
They discovered that once treated with K(D)PT, the amount of melanin in the follicle increased significantly.
"The melanin stimulation suggested the technique could be used as an anti-graying agent," said lead researcher Dr. Ralf Paus.
However, he said it was still to early to know if it could be used to restore hair to its full color.
"It's important to note that this is laboratory research and not yet ready for use on patients," said Nina Goad, of the British Association of Dermatologists.
"However, while the research is still at a very early stage, these findings could potentially pave the way for new therapies that restore color to white hair.
She said that although the research only applies to people whose hair has turned white following illness, it is an important step for such patients.
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