Gray Hair: Scientists Explore Methods Of Reversing Graying And Aging Process

By Tyler MacDonald Dec 30, 2015 06:21 PM EST
Gray Hair
Scientists have discovered that the hair gene IRF4 is linked to graying hair. Understanding just how this gene works may help in the development of new cosmetic procedures that change the appearance of hair.

Back in 2013, scientists from Bradford University discovered that people who go gray are experiencing a buildup of hydrogen peroxide in their hair follicles, causing the hair to bleach itself from the inside out. The results, reported in The FASEB Journal, showed plenty of promise for those hoping to get rid of their maligned gray hair.

"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," said Gerald Weissman, FASEB Journal editor-in-chief.

Despite the promise of the findings, they were actually made unintentionally during the search for a remedy for the skin disease vitiligo.

"While this is exciting news, what's even more exciting is that this also works for vitiligo," said Weissman. "This condition, while technically cosmetic, can have serious socio-emotional effects on people. Developing an effective treatment for this condition has the potential to radically improve many people's lives."

Since the discovery, no news on the front of gray hair reversal in the scientific world has surfaced, although George Church, a professor from Harvard University, claimed he has the ability to cure aging earlier this month, according to the Washington Post. However, the motivations behind his cure are a little different than simple aesthetic appeal.

"A scenario is, everyone takes gene therapy — not just curing rare diseases like cystic fibrosis, but diseases that everyone has, like aging," he said, noting that mice have lifespans between two to three years whereas bowhead whales live to be 180 or 200.

"One of our biggest economic disasters right now is our aging population. If we eliminate retirement, then it buys us a couple of decades to straighten out the economies of the world," he added. "If all those gray hairs could go back to work and feel healthy and young, then we've averted one of the greatest economic disasters in history."

Back in May, scientists from the University of Tsukuba in Japan were able to turn old cells into new ones, according to IFL Science.

Whether these findings will result in a cure for gray hair or an age reversal process anytime soon is still uncertain, but what is certain is the fact that the potential is there and many scientists are toiling away with the hopes of making them a reality.

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