Hair dye products have been used for centuries to treat painful conditions like psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Now, researchers have found they work similarly to drugs used to treat cancer, diabetes, and heart attacks, and they may help patients in other diseases.
But for now, scientists are just beginning to understand how they work, and how they might be used in the clinic.
“These are all products that are intended to be absorbed through the skin,” said lead author Jonathan J. Strayer, a professor of chemical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley.
“They work by acting as a sort of painkiller, and then you get a feeling of relief when you take them off.”
A few years ago, Strayers team reported using a dye in a mouse model of diabetes to treat rheumatic fever.
That helped the mice lose some of the signs of the disease, including muscle weakness and fatigue, and caused them to stop eating, drinking, and sleeping.
When they got the dye off, the mice recovered more rapidly than they did before the treatment.
Stryer and his colleagues tested how the dye affects mice’s behavior in a more lab-scale setting.
They first tried to see if the dye could alter the mice’s immune system, which is known to produce inflammation and other chemicals that lead to autoimmune disease.
They then studied how the same dye affected mice’s liver cells, and their response to the painkiller oxycodone.
The researchers found that oxycodones, the main ingredient in painkillers, were able to reverse the effects of the dye.
But they also found that the dye did not work as well on the immune system.
That’s because oxycodants have different receptors in the body, so it’s difficult to know if oxycodan affects the immune systems of mice or whether it’s something else.
“If you have a specific drug that affects a specific receptor, you’re going to see different changes in your body,” said Strays co-author J.J. Dyson, an assistant professor of medicine at the UC Berkeley School of Medicine.
“So it’s important to know what’s causing it and how it affects your body, to see whether you have immune problems.”
The researchers tested the effects on a mouse with the disease and in a group of mice without the disease.
While the mice that received the dye exhibited more inflammation and pain in the liver, the oxycodoned mice had a more normal immune response.
They also had less pain when they took a second dose of the drug.
That suggests that oxy-dye may act on the receptors that cause inflammation and the pain, the researchers say.
Oxycodone also helped the dye work well when it was added to the blood of the mice.
When the researchers administered the dye to mice without diabetes and a different disease, they saw a similar response.
In fact, oxycodoning was effective in preventing the mice from developing diabetes and rhabdomyolysis, a condition in which the liver breaks down and the blood sugar levels drop.
So the team is now looking into ways to add oxycodONE to other drugs that are currently used to help treat pain.
It’s possible that other compounds may work as painkillers.
For instance, some painkillers are used to reduce inflammation, which could be the reason they work so well in mice.
“The interesting thing about painkillers is that they work by activating different receptors, and some of them work by suppressing the immune response,” Strayes said.
“And some of these drugs work on different pathways in the immune cells, so you can get a different effect.”
Strayesters team is also interested in using oxycodONES to treat inflammation in patients with diabetes and other inflammatory diseases.
It may be possible to find a way to take oxycodONs and oxyODONES and combine them to get a stronger effect.
“It’s possible to combine them, and that would be really exciting,” Stryers said.
If the research proves to be successful, it could be used to develop new drugs that target specific pain receptors in other parts of the body.
Oxy-dyes may also be used for treating cancers and other diseases in the future, though that research is ongoing.
“I think we’re going into uncharted waters with this,” Stayers said, because “we don’t have the same research tools or the same expertise in the laboratory.”