More Than Just a Pretty Color: Melanin Promotes Tissue Repair

Synthetic melanin speeds healing of skin wounds by scavenging harmful reactive oxygen molecules and reducing inflammation

by Science Writer Kim Woolcock

In severe skin injuries, healing can be slowed by overproduction of reactive oxygen species (ROS), highly reactive molecules that damage tissue, leading to inflammation. Although artificial antioxidant wound-healing compounds have been tested, biocompatibility and delivery pose issues. Now, researchers are testing the power of synthetic melanin to heal skin injuries. Melanin is commonly known as the pigment found in hair, skin, and eyes, but it is also a potent antioxidant and free radical scavenger, providing natural defense in the skin. Researchers hypothesized that synthetic melanin might offer an excellent natural option to promote wound healing. In an open-access paper published November 2, 2023 in npj Regenerative Medicine, Biyashev et al. report that skin injuries heal significantly more quickly if treated with synthetic melanin. The paper is titled “Topical Application of Synthetic Melanin Promotes Tissue Repair Melanocytes.”

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