Skin Lightening

Safe and effective approaches for modulating skin melanocyte function for therapeutic benefit are lacking, largely because the factors normally regulating melanocyte homeostasis are complex and incompletely deciphered. Defining these mechanisms is important however, as myriad genetic and acquired conditions including common afflictions such as acne, eczema, vitiligo, ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure, traumatic injury, and pregnancy are associated with alterations in skin pigmentation that can be extensive and long-lasting (James et al., 2011).

Commonly utilized approaches for decreasing skin melanin are often unsafe, and involve application of toxic mercury or arsenic compounds, especially common in India, China, Japan, and Korea, but also encountered in the U.S., and recently highlighted in a report from the California Department of Public Health (Report #14–046, 2014), or hydroquinone, a tyrosinase inhibitor, which has been banned in Europe because of concerns regarding its possible association with cancer (McGregor, 2007).

Our findings describe small molecule sex steroid analogs, without these toxicities, that modulate pigment production.