The Greek Key

If you have experienced any disastrous hair bleaching experiments, you will definitely understand the need for a hair coating agent that could reverse the damage. What if you have a miracle hair cream that could improve the strength of your hair beyond the normal? You will get enough confidence to try the hair straightening procedure, you have been procrastinating because your hormones have been playing tricks with your hair making it slender. You may soon have that magic hair cream in your vanity bag!

English: Example:hair being straighten with a ...
English: Example:hair being straighten with a regular curly iron. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hair is made up of keratin stabilised by disulphide linkages. Biochemistry would proffer a cysteine rich protein capable of forming disulphide linkages with the cysteine in keratin as the most likely candidate. But molecular biology does not always accede with conventional wisdom and found just the opposite!

Researchers from University of Minho, Portugal have tested human eye Gamma-D-crystallin as an innovative hair strengthening product.[1] Gamma-crystallin D is a member of superfamily characterized structurally by the Greek key motif a secondary structure motif with four adjacent antiparallel strands and their linking loops resembling Greek ornamental artwork. This thermodynamically stable motif has a unique ability to be involved in the coating of specific structures.

Table with functions of the domains for each a...
Table with functions of the domains for each anthrax toxin protein. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The ability of crystallin to bind to damaged hair and even penetrate into its cortex was checked by fluorescence microscopy, confocal microscopy and scanning electron microscopy. Furthermore the reinforcement of hair mechanical resistance and the potential cytotoxic/inflammatory effect of crystallins were also studied. They demonstrated that mechanical properties of damaged hair improved beyond that of virgin hair as Gamma-D-crystallin penetrated deep into the hair cortex.

However comparison of wild type Gamma-D-crystallin with a mutant type showed that though both had almost similar efficacy, the mutant type triggered a proinflammatory IL-6 response. Hence stability of this protein in a hair care preparation would be of paramount importance if Gamma-D-crystallin indeed becomes the next generation hair restoration cream.

Special thanks to Dr Ribeiro and the rest of the team for the details.

1. “International Journal of Cosmetic Science – JournalTOCs.” 2010. 14 Jun. 2013 <>

Bell Eapen
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About Bell Eapen 247 Articles
Techie Dermatologist, Information Systems PhD, Supporter of Open-Source Software, Machine Learning and AI geek, loves cricket, Canadian wine and beer. [Resume]

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