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Cell Transplants Hold Hope In 'White Skin' Epidemic

Washington Post


L. -.., I._ :>. i. J MELASOPESIA is one of the most se’rious genetic dis- cases to afflict the popula- tion of the United Siates and Europe. In the United States it affects almost 90 per cent of the population and, bcinp aggravated by the social and political cli- mate of that country, it has an unparalleled virulence. In fact, it mav destroy that Kation. - Because of its most ob- vious manifestations, melan- openia is popularly known as “white skin.” One of its more subtle effects is that Its victims, far from recog- nizing that they suffer from 3 genetic defect, often look down on their fellows who have a more complete en- zyme system in their skin. IjIKE X4SY other dis- eases, the primary lesion in mclanopenia is not inher- ently very serious, and it is the interaction of a mild dis- ability with a particular en- vironment that generates th’e full-blown epidemics. The biochemistry of melan- ._ _ openia is not well uncle:-, stood, but some investiga- label for group identifica- tions suggest that it is a de- tion, one which reinforces the universal feet in the enzyme, tyrosi- ’ trend in human affairs for the exalta- nase, which blocks the syn- thesis of melanin pigment. tion of in-groups at the ex- pense of outcasts. tjve housing and clothing. The biological sigllificancc of melanin in man is still controversial, but it seems likely that it c?n help Pro* tfct the deeper layers of t!!C skin, and some physicians report that, as a consc- ouet3+. Se9773 retain more youthful facial skin into mnrc R~~PIWC~ ace. One form of rrductxl pigmenta- t,inn is associated wjth the d i I; c a !: e nhens‘lkctonuria (DKTT), ‘rl,o m~nlal r~tarcla- tioll pf pTtTi can, however, ho ,m:+ina+nrl b. 3 rorc'ful r-*ltrol of tlin i?f-rl!'s ditf. tion’ to its biological signif;- cancc. Biology is, however, a very recent , science, and most of our social institu- tions and attitudes were crystallized before we had ,any

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