The core technology of Dongguk University is to provide promising anti-vitiligo agents from bee venom. The bee venom extracts exhibit anti-vitiligo activities by distinctly various actions such as hyperpigmentation, enhanced proliferation and migration of melanocytes, production of melanin, and so on.
Background and unmet needs: Vitiligo is a chronic disorder that causes depigmentation in patches of skin. It occurs when the melanocytes, the cells responsible for skin pigmentation which are derived from the neural crest, die or are unable to function. Although a cause of vitiligo has not been understood, there is some evidence suggesting it is caused by a combination of autoimmune, genetic, and environmental factors. It is also common in people with thyroid disorders. The population incidence worldwide is considered to be less than 1 percent.
Bee venom is a bitter colorless liquid, which causes local inflammation and acts as an anticoagulant. The venom is produced in the abdomen of worker bees from a mixture of acidic and basic secretions. Bee venom therapy is used by some as a treatment for rheumatism and joint diseases due to its anticoagulant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Discovery and Achievements: Anti-vitiligo agents of Dongguk University have been developed on the basis of findings that the bee venom may induce proliferation of melanocytes and have anti-inflammatory activities. It is very difficult to isolate an active ingredient from bee venom, but several components were identified from bee venom. Of them, histamine, particularly H2 group, is very effective in production of melanin, proliferation and migration of melanocytes and formation of dendritic branches.