Our Paper on Synthetic Pheomelanin is Accepted in Chemical Science!

pheomelanin is the prevalent pigment in red hair and fair skin, and has been shown to be related to many diseases including Parkinson’s disease, skin cancer etc. However, pheomelanin presents a significant challenge for fundamental characterization, because it is a highly crosslinked, insoluble material with no sequence-controlled structure. In this paper, we investigate different synthetic routes for pheomelanin. With detailed characterization and parallel comparison with natural pheomelanin, we verify that only the route employing 5-cysteinyl-dihydroxyphenylalanine (5-CD) as a monomer yield a close analogue of extracted pheomelanin from humans and birds.   With this pheomelanin in hand, we unravel the electronic, molecular and supramolecular structure of the enigmatic pigment, which will further advance our fundamental understanding of this important subfamily of melanin.

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