Researches created a Chemical Pigment Rainbow

A new research sheds some new “colors” on melanin pigments. This research has been conducted by Dr. Ayala Lampel, of the Shmunis school of Biomedicine and Cancer Research and Prof. Rein V. Ulijn of The City University of New York (CUNY)

25 January 2021
Pigments Supernatants. Credit: Dr. Ayala Lampel

This research has been conducted by Dr. Ayala Lampel together with her PhD. Student Tlalit Massarano of the Shmunis School of Biomedicine and Cancer Research and Prof. Rein V. Ulijn and other co-authors at the City University of New York (CUNY). The research results were published in the International edition of the German Science magazine Angewandte Chemie and highlighted in Nature on January 2021. 

By taking advantage of supramolecular pre‐organization of tyrosine‐tripeptides and reactive sequestering of selected amino acids during enzymatic oxidation, the researchers have demonstrated the spontaneous formation of distinct new chromophores with optical properties that are far beyond the range of those found in biological melanins.

The researchers used a self-assembling peptide, which upon enzymatic oxidation, reconfigured into melanin-like particles. As those particles grew, they managed to take on a color, in reaction to added amino acids: yellow with cysteine, deep red with phenylalanine and greenish brown with isoleucine.

The imitation of melanin formation in the human body can have a significant contribution to skincare products, by increasing their efficiency to protect against UVA and UVB radiation damages, which can cause various types of skin cancer and melanoma.


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