Patent Pick: Binding Agreement for Hair Repair


A recent patent application from MIT researchers describes a keratin-binding molecule for hair repair.

Inventors from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have focused on the damage hair sustains from the environment, aging, washing, coloring and styling. Repeated washing results in lifted cuticles, while heat damage from drying, straightening or curling hair leads to dehydrated, frizzy hair and split ends. Aging and UV exposure culminate in a loss of melanin, leaving hair bleached or grey.

Hair colorants, relaxants and other harsh treatments also raise cuticles and lead to hair loss and/or breakage, and can cause skin damage and irritation as well. As such, the inventors aimed to create a chemistry to help protect and/or repair damaged hair, and color it without the use of harsh chemicals. A specific construct comprising at least one keratin-binding molecule was identified.

The Literature

Engineered treatmenets for hair repair and long-lasting color retention
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/200233
Publication date: Oct. 17, 2019
Assignee: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Disclosed herein is a keratin-binding construct that comprises the formula Xn-Ym, where: X is one type of keratin-binding molecule and Y is a different type of keratin-binding molecule; n = 0-20 and m = 0-20; wherein n and m cannot both be 0. For example, the keratin-binding protein can comprise 1 to 5 repeats of the amino acid sequence: QGQVQHLQAAFSQYKKVELFPKGG.

In some aspects, the keratin-binding constructs comprise a site for bioconjugation to a lipid, and may be combined with one or more cosmetic ingredients. In other aspects, at least one keratin-binding molecule is a protein, and the keratin conjugation site is located at the C-terminus of the protein. In still further aspects, at least one keratin-binding molecule is a protein, and one or more cysteines is part of a single polypeptide chain with the keratin-binding molecule. Lastly, the keratin-binding constructs may contain a dye that imparts color to the molecule; extensive details are disclosed in the patent application. Product applications include kits for hair repair, hair treatment or hair coloring.

Patent application accessed on Oct. 17, 2019.

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