Melanotan II

melanotan ii

Melanotan II, developed at the University of Arizona, is a synthetic analog of the naturally occurring melanocortin peptide hormone alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (α-MSH) that in usage has been shown to have melanogenesis (tanning) and aphrodisiac effects in preliminary studies and clinical trials.

No compound incorporating the melanotan II peptide has ever been approved for use by any governmental drug regulatory bodies outside of clinical trials. Unlicensed and untested powders sold as ‘melanotan II’ are found on the Internet and are reported to be used by thousands of members of the general public.

Researchers at the University of Arizona knew that one of the best defenses against skin cancer was melanin activated in the skin, also known as a tan. They hypothesized that an effective way to reduce skin cancer rates in people would be to induce the body’s natural pigmentary system to produce a protective tan prior to UV exposure. The body’s naturally occurring hormone α-MSH causes melanogenesis, a process by which the skin’s pigment cells (melanocytes) produce the skin’s pigment (melanin).

They tested to see if administering this endogenous hormone to the body directly could be an effective method to cause sunless tanning. What they found was that while it appeared to work, natural α-MSH had too short a half life in the body to be practical as a therapeutic drug. So they decided to find a more potent and stable alternative, one that would be more practical.

After synthesizing and screening hundreds of molecules, the researchers headed by Victor J. Hruby and Mac E. Hadley, found a peptide that was approximately 1,000 times more potent than natural α-MSH. They dubbed this new peptide molecule, ‘Melanotan’ (later Melanotan-1, now known as afamelanotide). They subsequently developed another analog, which they called ‘Melanotan II.’

The scientists licensed their patented peptides, via a technology transfer company, to a number of biotechnology companies who intend to develop them into drugs.

A pilot Phase I clinical trial conducted on three males, published in 1996 reported that, ‘Melanotan II has tanning activity in humans given only 5 low doses every other day by subcutaneous injection.’ The side effects reported were mild nausea and a ‘stretching and yawning complex’ that correlated with spontaneous penile erections. Subsequent studies have confirmed the drug’s effectiveness as a treatment for erectile dysfunction.

Academic researchers have reported on a ‘thriving’ internet community of users of the peptides at the site, where members discuss their experiences using the unlicensed and unregulated drugs.

A 2009 paper on unlicensed ‘melanotan’ products, sold on the internet, has reported that the products caused moles to darken and increase in size over a short period, ‘an early warning sign of skin cancer.’ Academic researchers at Liverpool John Moores University specialized in performance-enhancing drugs published an editorial in the ‘British Medical Journal’ suggesting that use of ‘melanotan I and II’, ‘could damage the immune and cardiovascular systems as well as triggering other problems.’

Palatin Technologies developed another hormone targeted towards sexual dysfunction therapy based upon melanotan II called bremelanotide (formerly PT-141). The drug has been undergoing clinical trials for the treatment of sexual arousal disorder and erectile dysfunction. It is intended for both men and women.

2 Comments to “Melanotan II”

  1. Melanotan II and UV exposure complement each other, so if you spend a lot of time tanning you will need less frequent injections of Melanotan II to obtain and maintain your tan.

  2. There is some further data on usage soon to be published

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