Can New Research on Mice Hold the Key to Combating Hair Loss?
When it comes to dealing with hair loss, the current solutions range from combovers to hair loss medications and transplants that are way too way to spot. However, research continues in the scientific community on new solutions for hair loss. Scientists have recently discovered some hair loss can be treated by blocking certain enzyme activities. In fact, in a new study bald mice underwent certain enzyme blocking treatments and they started showing new hair within 10 days.
Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center spent time last year searching for new treatments for alopecia areata. The research team studied how well certain drugs inhibit a family of enzymes that is in hair follicles. The enzymes are known as Janus Kinase (JAK). Their research showed the drugs actually turned off a signal that started autoimmune attacks. The drugs also showed potential to restore the growth of hair when given orally to some subjects as well as when it was applied to the skin. These findings indicate that the JAK drugs seemed to be preventing the autoimmune attack as well as having a direct interaction with the hair follicles.
Simply put, the research team established that the JAK inhibitors help to bring the hair follicles out of their resting state. (They normally put the follicles into a resting phase.) The act of suppressing its normal activity allows the drugs to help any hair in the sleeping state return to the active cycle. In the research on the bald mice, the JAK drugs were applied to their skin for five days and then they started to grow new hair within ten days. The mice regrew almost all of their hair within three weeks while another group of mice left untreated remained bald.
In the past, there have been some similar mice studies trying to manipulate the growth cycle. I have done some studies on mice hair growth after electroporation (a technique used in gene therapy) in mice model at Johns Hopkins Medical Institute. However, most of these studies are limited by their focus on hair cycles and not changing the course of miniaturized hairs that are going through the process of baldness. This innovation would be great for human body hair that has a longer resting phase and shorter growth phase. If they apply it on human body hair, a person can potentially have more body hair. I am not sure if anyone wants this though. When it comes to human scalp hair, they behave differently than mouse hair since they already have a very long growth phase. Plus, more than 95% of scalp hair is in a growth phase at any one time. Keeping them longer in growth phase may help a person grow scalp hair longer but, if they have follicles that are falling because of male patterned baldness, they shouldn’t be affected as much.