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Fungal study highlights new enzyme to tackle dandruff

By Andrew McDougall , 14-May-2012
Last updated on 14-May-2012 at 18:18 GMT

Scientists are looking into a potential new treatment for the cause of dandruff having studied one of the main perpetrators; a fungus found on the scalp.

Dandruff is one of the most embarrassing nuisances that affects over half the people on the planet, and research reported in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Medicinal Chemistry has looked into a much-demanded new treatment for the condition’s flaking and itching.

Their research is pointing the scientists towards this latest advance and lead professor Claudiu T. Supuran and his colleagues have begun the quest for better treatment.

Problematic condition

Dandruff involves an excessive shedding of dead skin cells from the scalp. In people without dandruff, it takes about 30 days for a crop of new skin cells to mature, die and shed. In people with dandruff, it may take only 2-7 days.

Irritation by the scalp-dwelling fungus Malassezia globosa (M. globosa) is one cause of dandruff, and was the one which Suduran and his team have analyzed.

Shampoos and other dandruff treatments contain anti-fungal agents, but the researchers say new medicines are badly needed since the two existing compounds are not very effective at preventing and treating dandruff.

Identifying enzyme

Supuran's team identified an enzyme in M. globosa that is essential for the fungus's growth and could change the route that formulations take in the future.

Tests showed that sulfonamides, a family of existing antibiotic medicines, were more effective in preventing the fungus's growth than ketoconazole, a widely used anti-fungal medicine that is an ingredient in certain dandruff treatments.

As a result of the study, the scientists believe that the enzyme is a prime target for developing better anti-dandruff medicines.

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