Skin Deep - Clinical & Cosmetic Dermatology Blog

Skin Deep is a blog for dermatologists and skin care professionals with focus on theoretical, cosmetic and aesthetic dermatology. This blog is associated with ‘Dermatologists Sans Borders’ one of the largest curated groups of skin care professionals on facebook. If you are looking for non-technical information, please visit

Big Bang Theory

This is a theoretic exploration of a product that promises to reverse the greying of hair. Special thanks to Dr. Ranju for bringing up this topic in the Dermatologists facebook group and to Dr Bina for sending me the details. We shall avoid using the trade names and shall refer to the product as 'The Bang'. Please follow this convention, if you comment on this post.

3D rendered animation of the structure of the ...
3D rendered animation of the structure of the Melanotan II peptide molecule. (Full size) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
First of all 'The Bang' is from a cosmetic company and it is unlikely to be approved by regulatory bodies as a drug. (The cynic in me is awake already :)

3D rendered animation of the structure of the ...
3D rendered animation of the structure of the afamelanotide peptide molecule. (Full size) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Let me start with a little bit of history. MC1R ligands (like the bangs) are the focus of active research. The most noteworthy molecule in this group is the Afamelanotide that is being developed by Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals as melanotan. The primary use for melanotan is to produce a protective tan prior to intense sun exposure. It is being developed as an injection and a subcutaneous implant.

Due to some inconsistency in the regulatory process, a number of products with similar structure are 'legally sold' over the internet as a natural tanning product. There are reports of darkening and increase in size of moles following the use of these products, but the risk of carcinogenesis has been ruled out.

Read more about this story here.

English: Picture to illustrate bangs
English: Picture to illustrate bangs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I checked their patent (filed on May 10, 2005 and approved on Aug 21, 2008) and found that the core structure is similar to Afamelanotide. Peptides may have similar active site with vastly different sequence for the rest of the chain.

To sum up the history, the concept of a biomimetic MC1R ligand that darkens hair is good. I shall critically evaluate their promotional material in the next post after a couple of days. In the meantime, if you have it from Dermacon Ahmedabad, do a critical evaluation yourself.

Read Part 2 here on monday morning.

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About Me

As a Dermatologist and Informatician my research mainly involves application of bioinformatics techniques and tools in dermatological conditions. However my research interests are varied and I have publications in areas ranging from artificial intelligence, sequence analysis, systems biology, ontology development, microarray analysis, immunology, computational biology and clinical dermatology. I am also interested in eHealth, Health Informatics and Health Policy.


Bell Raj Eapen
Hamilton, ON