What is Melanotan?
Melanotan is a synthetic peptide synthesized to mimic the action of melanocortins. These melanocortins include melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH), alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH), and adrenal-cortical-stimulating hormone (ACTH).
MSH includes a variety of peptide hormones that trigger melanin production, which is responsible for the pigmentation of the skin and hair of many animals. This includes Melanotan 1 (MT1) and 2 (MT2).
What is Melanotan 1?
Melanotan 1, also known as Afamelanotide, is an analog of the alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH). First synthesized at the University of Arizona in the 1980s, MT1 is currently being studied to help with skin disorders. In Europe, the peptide is clinically administered to patients suffering from erythropoietic protoporphyria to prevent phototoxicity or sun-related damage to the skin. It was initially formulated to act as a sunless tanning agent. Interestingly, it was also observed to influence diverse physiological processes like feeding patterns, central nervous system operations, blood pressure, etc. The clinical trials involving the molecule are currently in phase II stage for keratosis (a particular kind of skin damage induced by the sun) and the more severe squamous cell carcinoma and in phase III stage for the treatment of polymorphous light eruption.
What is Melanotan 2?
Melanotan 2 or MT2 is similarly a synthetic analog of α-MSH. Like Melanotan 1, it also directly affects melanogenesis or the production of melanin in the skin. However, an unintended accident led to the discovery of its other effects.
Aside from stimulating melanogenesis, MT2 has demonstrated potential effects on female sexual dysfunction and erectile dysfunction in several animal experiments conducted throughout the years.
Melanotan 2 is an upgraded synthetic variant of the human alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone. It is a modification of melatonin which was originally developed at the University of Arizona in the 1980s. Melanotan acts as an artificial tanning agent of the skin and helps reduce the frequency of skin cancer due to UV exposure while avoiding the side effects of existing UV blocking creams. Interestingly, the development of Melanotan has initiated studies of the entire branch of human receptor science, which deals with a new understanding of diverse physiological phenomena like hunger, sexual arousal, and autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Animal studies have highlighted the following functions of Melanotan 2.
1. Sexual stimulation,
2. Enhancement of skin pigmentation, enhances cardiac function in specific settings,
3. Control of compulsive and addictive behavior,
4. Regulation of hunger as a result of leptin signaling,
5. Reduction in glucagon production,
6. Amelioration of features of autism, and
7. Improvement of cardiac function in specific settings.
Melanotan 1 vs Melanotan 2
These two peptides are almost identical to each other in terms of chemical structure and mechanism of action. However, in terms of their effect, they exhibit many interesting traits.
When it comes to effects, Melanotan 1 primarily enhances melanogenesis through association with the melanocortin one receptor (MC1). MT1 is approved by FDA at present and other regulatory bodies for the treatment of different skin-related illnesses.
It was approved by the Italian Medicines Agency [(AIFA) Agenzia Italiana del Farmaco] for the treatment of Erythropoietic Protoporphyria (EPP) in 2010. European Medicines Agency (EMA) also gave their nod for treating phototoxicity in people with EPP in 2015.
As of 2019, the US FDA approved MT1 for pain treatment caused by sun exposure in people with EPP.
Similar to MT1, MT2 also enhances melanogenesis by stimulating the melanocortin one receptor. However, unlike MT1, MT2 induces other melanocortin receptors, specifically MC1, MC3, MC4, MC5.
This stimulation of other MC receptors leads to other outcomes such as penile erection, sexual arousal, and appetite suppression.
Studies on animal and rat models have demonstrated that MT2 is extremely effective in stimulating the MC4 receptor. Reports reveal that MT2 is 10-100x more potent than endogenous melanocyte hormones. This results in appetite suppression and weight loss in rats.
Price and Availability
It is crucial to note that even though these two peptides are almost identical, their price and availability vary. MT 1 is generally priced higher than MT 2. It is also very less available in the market, unlike MT 2, which is widely available and economical.
The choice of appropriate Melanotan will largely depend on the kind of research the users conduct. It is always advisable to purchase good-quality peptides. It will ensure the integrity of one’s research since all the products are quality tested via mass spectrometry and HPLC.
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