New Hair Loss Solution – Injected Like Botox?

Hair loss impacts both male and female patients and the amount of hair loss can range from thinning on the scalp to a completely bald head. At the moment, the main methods of treating hair loss include having a hair transplant to restore the hairline or using minoxidil or finasteride to stop or slow down the hair loss process. This could change as new research from the University of California, Irvine, might be the start of advanced therapies that will be able to combat hair loss in the near future.

New Hair Loss Solution – What Does a Study Reveal?

The UCI research team, who published their findings in the journal, Nature, shared the process behind how pigment-generating cells that are aging in the skin can actually cause new hair within moles located on the skin. The researchers worked to examine the molecular mechanisms related to the stimulation of hair growth. Their study suggests that their research efforts might result in a microneedling technique, much like Botox, that could treat hair loss in a new manner.

According to the research team, by gaining a better understanding of the hair growth process with these specific moles, it could lead to molecular therapies for male patterned baldness or female patterned baldness.

New Hair Loss Solution – The Role of “Aged Cells” in Hair Growth

New hair loss solutionDuring this study, the research team examined mice possessing skin spots that showed signs of an accelerated growth of hair (similar to what has been viewed in hairy skin moles on humans). The team also took steps to examine how some of the signaling molecules impacted the stem cells to the point that hair growth occurred.

In the mice that were examined, the aged pigment cells were shown to produce high levels of osteopontin which is a signaling molecule which corresponds to CD44 (a matching receptor molecule that the mice possessed in their hair stem cells). The interactions between CD44 and osteopontin seemed to generate hair thanks to the activation of the hair stem cells.

The mice that were in possession of either the receptor molecules or the signaling molecule were examined so a control group was offered. A slower amount of hair growth was viewed in the mice that were lacking one or the other genes. In addition, the research team stated that the role of osteopontin in hair growth has also been evidenced by way of samples of hairy moles in humans.

According to Maksim Plikus, PhD, the lead author of the study, the core of the research shows that the “aged cells” are able to “exert prominent growth-promoting effects on tissue’s stem cells.” Plikus added, “Hair growing out of nevus skin often look ‘youthful,’ long and thick despite the fact that skin moles are jam-packed with ‘aged’ pigment-making cells, called senescent melanocytes. If one would follow conventional logic that senescent cells are the cause of tissue aging, then mole skin should be particularly ‘old’ – yet, what we see is vigorous, ‘rejuvenated’ hair growth.”

When compared to youthful cells, senescent cells stop dividing which means they can remain in an idle state in tissues for years at a time “without meaningfully contributing to tissue renewal by making new cells.” The senescent cells do not pose much harm, and they can even bind to the surfaces of other cells as well as modulate their behavior. They can also bind to, and trigger, the immune cells of the body. This knowledge plays a part in research on aging as “it has long been believed that exposure to senescent cell-secreted molecules is not very healthy for tissues as it inappropriately prompts their immune cells, which ultimately promotes tissue decline.”

However, this research also shows “a surprisingly positive effect” of the signaling molecules created by skin moles cells on the hair follicle stems cells that are close by and at rest. Even though these cells are associated with aging, they do play a role in triggering the growth of new hair via the osteopontin molecule.

“Osteopontin from senescent cells acts directly on hair follicle stem cells via its molecular receptor, called CD44, and it is the molecular interaction between the two genes that triggers new hair growth. Binding of osteopontin to CD44 on the surface of hair follicle stem cells sets off a molecular chain reaction in the latter — it induces changes in their gene expression and this, in turn, results in their activation. Hair follicle stem cells exit dormancy and start dividing and this initiates new hair growth.”

New Hair Loss Solution – Possible Microneedling Hair Growth Treatment in the Future?

Since osteopontin is not able to penetrate intact skin when it is applied topically (as it is basically “a large-size protein”), a product that is created based on this research would have to be micro-delivered to the skin at a depth of around 1mm AKA the depth in the body where normal hair follicle stem cells reside. “Such micro-delivery can be done via a form of microneedling technique. We envision this will be a quick, near pain-free procedure, whereas scalp skin is treated with micro-needles that efficiently deliver small amounts of molecules such as osteopontin approximately 1 mm deep.”

When it comes to further studies, the biopharmaceutical company co-founded by Plikus, Amplifica, announced the first in-human study of AMP-303 which is a compound that will be used for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia. In addition, AMP-303 does not rely on osteopontin.

The president and CEO of the company, Frank Fazio, says his team is encouraged by data that suggests AMP-303 will be an effective solution for both men and women. The first human subject began the treatment on June 27th of this year. The study is expected to be finished in the first quarter of 2024. Once this study is finished, additional clinical studies will be necessary to provide a further evaluation of the findings in human subjects.