Researchers Regenerate Ear Hair Cells via Increasing Progenitor Cells; Wnt Pathway Stimulation Also Involved

I had a somewhat unusual post already half written for today, but commentator “baldings” posted a very important link that changed my plans.

This new link pertains to an article titled “Drug treatment could combat hearing loss” and on the surface seems to have little bearing with scalp hair loss. However, hearing loss is usually caused by permanent damage to many of the 15,000 hair cells in each inner ear. In the article, the author discusses a new paper that is published in the February 21 issue of Cell Reports. In fact the findings of this paper are so important that the cover page of the journal has a photo taken directly from the paper:

In this paper, a team of scientists (from MIT, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Massachusetts Eye and Ear) have found a way to regenerate tiny inner ear hair follicles via a drug combination treatment. This combination is a two step process where in the first step, a combination of drugs expands the progenitor cell population. In the second step, another combination of drugs induces the new cells to differentiate into hair cells. In one variation of the experiment, the second step was not even necessary because “once the progenitor cells were formed, they were naturally exposed to signals that stimulated them to become mature hair cells“.

I am pretty certain that I have read articles in the past about ear hair cell regeneration and might even have mentioned one or two of them in passing on this blog before. However, this particular article and associated study warranted its own separate post and stuck out for two key reasons:

  1. The researchers succeeded in regenerating mouse ear hair cells via creating new progenitor cells. This is quite astounding to me because in regular scalp hair loss, scientists have found that hair is not lost due to the death of hair cells, but rather, due to the death of progenitor cells. So if these scientists can create new progenitor cells in the ear that lead to ear hair regeneration, I do not see how they can not try to use the same method to create new progenitor cells in the scalp.
  2. The researchers accomplished their potentially ground breaking achievement via stimulating the Wnt signaling pathway. I have discussed that pathway numerous times on this blog in the past, since it seems to be crucial for scalp hair growth. Moreover, well known company Samumed’s hair loss drug is targeting that same pathway.

Will ear hair cell research and findings become applicable towards scalp hair cell research? I really hope so and this new article makes me think that the answer is: “highly likely”.

86 thoughts on “Researchers Regenerate Ear Hair Cells via Increasing Progenitor Cells; Wnt Pathway Stimulation Also Involved”

  1. Yeah but the problem is that it would be over 10 years or more after trials and testing and approval. 10 years to late for me and many others.

  2. Seems to back up the science behind jak inhibitors as well. They activate the Wnt signal pathway and boost progenitor cells within the follicle.

  3. But inner ear hair cells are completly different to real hair follicles, the are not really hair, they are just called like this. They are more like special cells for electrical signal transduction! These are sensory receptors. So it has nothing to do with hair follicle regeneration.

    1. Hi ms,

      You are correct in that they are completely different from scalp hair, but the cells still seem to produce tiny hair even if for a totally different purpose.

      e.g., see second picture in here titled “tiny inner ear hairs”: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2259688/Drug-reverse-permanent-deafness-regenerating-hair-cells-inner-ear.html

      It seems like a tremendous coincidence that progenitor cells and Wnt signaling are involved in both inner ear hair cell growth and in scalp hair growth.

      1. Yes that is true, and it would be nice if they can use this pathway as a target for cell regeneration even though there are so many different cell types. The thing I am worried about is that even after a breakthrough discovery, real solutions are always years away. 🙁 but our hairloss continiues …..

      2. In fact the inner ear (with its receptor) and the dermal skin ( with its hair) originally where the same embrional tissue; the ectoderm. so basically they both originate from the same cells and then diffentiate.

  4. @thanks admin for your immediate response regarding @baldings find,

    I wanted to ask you guys if kelopesia could be useful for a diffuse thinner ? My hair loss is fairly recent (5- years), maybe kelopesia could help thicken everything thing upthere??? I hardly believe a university would launch a product that does nothing… so i am wondering if you guys think it could help me ! Cheers

    1. Truth be told, I’m excited for this one. It’s coming out of a university, which is of course a great sign of integrity. The photos look good, the results are realistic and for a topical you gotta be smiling. I would be happy to see those results (consistently) from some sort of a new PRP treatment.

    1. You should try tea tree oil, and that onion apple cider garlic blender trick does NOT cure baldness but stops the itch for sure

  5. Nice article admin.. i have a small question about jaks..

    Do you know of anyone who tried jak inhibitors for mpb? I dont know why i feel that jaks used for alopecia areata can also help some types of mpb

  6. Great find! I think this is quite a discovery. It would seem to confirm Cotsarelis’s research and I believe is the first potential treatment focused directly on generating the progenitor cells missing in a bald scalp. While this research was for ear hair cells, you would have to think there is a lot of crossover applicable to scalp hair cells………..and possibly that LY411575 would apply directly to scalp hair. Probably a fair way off from becoming available but I will be interested see the safety profile.

  7. Highly interesting study. These ear hairs have long been assumed to be “irreversibly damaged” after a certain point. Just like AGA. I just really don’t think it is. Already is known that stem cells remain intact (for the most part) but lack progenitor cells in AGA hair. Sebaceous gland also enlarges, and often contact with arector pilli is lost. I think it is crucial to get the right signals to the miniaturized follicles. You can’t do that for a follicle that is way up in the fat and miniaturized without much vascularizarion. So maybe the topical immune system inhibitor (already known to stimulate WNT pathwayamongst many other functions) can get this stuff in concentrations high enough around the follicle to give the stem cells the right signals to replenish progenitor cells and also clean up the inflammation around the follicle (which includes repairing arector pilli and reducing sebaceous gland inflammation).

  8. Someone should contact them immediately. They have a company that will do tests on humans within 18 months. They should have an opinion on whether this will work on scalp hair and since we know they are eager capitalists treating hair loss is a natural path they may be convinced to go down.

    1. Hello @christopher1

      Are yuo the same guy that had the meristem procedure done in Geneva? How significant were the results after nearly a year now?

      1. Yes, that was me. The results for the first 9 months were good. Almost complete cessation of hair loss. However, after that, loss resumed. It makes sense that an infusion of stem cells would have a transitory effect.

  9. Unfortunately I am still here until their is finally a treatment.

    Great news on the Ear Hair that bodes well for us as we all get older and hearing loss occurs due to Ear Hair issues. They probably were able to make this discovery due to all the back up research in this area due to Hair Loss Research (due to us).

    JAK will work I know it. They just have to get to the right skin level. This Ear Hair is just another pointer that states JAK should work. JAK Rux is already FDA approved – No Waiting, except to get the price of the drug down. All we need is just a few experiments to saturate the lower skin layers with JAK and we are home free (except for the billionaire cost).

    JAK is our fast solution unless they cannot get the price of the drug down then we might actually have to wait for a cheaper solution.

    This Year is dragging on but this will be the year that we find a Real Treatment, whether JAK or something else, just not sure when it will become available to us.

    nasa_rs

  10. Wow! I’m glad I can finally help with something. Honestly didn’t expect to get a post out of an article I found – I honestly didn’t even read the article I kind of posted it as a joke.

    I found it on reddit, where one of the researchers was actually responding to questions. I asked him about its applications towards scalp hair loss and this was his/her response:

    “Hi. Thanks for you interest in our work. Unfortunately the “hair cells” are named this because they have tiny little protrusions that are deflected in response to sound. These are not than actual hair, just named so because they resemble hair. We have not examined how these drugs might help hair on the scalp, but I could imagine a similar approach could work.”

    1. Great find and thanks for asking that researcher!

      I wonder if he/she knows about the association between scalp progenitor cell death and scalp hair loss? And of course about Wnt signaling and its effect on scalp hair growth?

  11. If Follica flops then it’s safe to say we won’t have anything effective for a long time. I still have super high hopes for Follica and it being released before 2020. They seem to be ramping up behind the scenes.

  12. Stress hormone measured in hair linked to persistent obesity

    abcnews.go.com/Health/stress-hormone-measured-hair-linked-persistent-obesity-study/story?id=45685458

  13. @mjones, I agree..seems like they are taking it up a notch. Fingers crossed that we’ll get some good news after their presentation.

  14. Okay, let’s treat my comment like a verbal poll… who thinks a bonafide cure is coming and when?

    Sick of all these new techs cropping up and other hopeful news. Let’s just cut through the BS and talk about a cure in real terms and on a real timeline.

    1. Full cure will be when we are able to take DHT resistant hair, multiply it 1,000x or more per hair follicle, then reinject back into bald areas. That’s likely from shisedo, rikken, tsuji. And timeline 2020-2022 in this guys opinion. Of course before then a combination of different things may be able to restore multiple Norwoods before then. And there is always the VERY REAL chance something could come completely out of left field and cure this. So many different teams working on this at this point, with far more intuition than we had even 10 years ago.

      1. Thank you Matt. Mother of God… let it be!

        I don’t care that I’ll be 34-36 then. I look younger now, but with a full head hair, I’ll still look mid-20’s.

        And with reverse ageing around the corner…

  15. @Bald30, a full cure? I dont believe we are no way near a cure. Imo its more realistic to expect treatments similar or a little better than Finasteride & minoxidil, which (if we are really lucky) should hit the market in 2018 / 19. A topical treatment from a turkish university called ReBoost (previously known as Kleopesia) should hit the market within 2 weeks. Ppl more knowledgeable bout HL treatments seem to think its snake oil.

  16. Combo of Samumed and follica is my best guess. Will at least thicken and bring back a couple norwoods. We will no within a couple months how well Ethier works. Follica next week and Samumed this spring. I’m giving it mid to late 2018 when they hit the market hopefully

    1. I don’t see how we’ll know whether Follica works very well within a few months, personally. That dinner of their’s is just for dermatologists and other doctors by my understanding, we don’t know if they’ll show off much data (if any) or just talk about it, whether that information will even leave the room, etc.

      They also haven’t even begun their pivotal trial.

      I’d say that within the next two years we should know how well it works, though.

        1. I keep seeing this online regarding Follica’s Phase III: “It’s all speculation.”

          No, it is not.

          There is absolutely no record of the trial even in the recruiting stages in the databases, Follica nor Puretech have announced a trial start date and only ever said it was hoped to start this year. The closest anyone has to an argument for it being in Phase III is the chart on Puretech’s investor sheet thing showed the bar creeping past Phase II and into Phase III, but that doesn’t actually mean it’s begun; it just makes sense to put the bar there given that you’ve completed 2 phases already.

          There is no hard evidence that their final trial has started — simple as that.

          I hope that the Dr. who tweeted about the RAIN boxes on his visit to Follica’s offices attends this dinner of theirs and tweets about it after, though. I suspect if we hear anything from that event, it will be from him.

  17. Ok, a lot confusion about follica.

    1. Financial report says : “Follica has
    completed three human clinical studies of patients with androgenetic alopecia to demonstrate hair
    growth and new hair follicle formation following application of its technology. Follica has also performed and funded preclinical work which, together with research from the University of Pennsylvania, serve as 25 the foundational observations on which the technology is based. Follica plans to initiate a registration study in the second half of 2016, with data read-out in 2017. If the data are favourable, Follica would
    potentially plan to seek FDA clearance in 2017, with commercial release to follow as soon as 2018.” – 2016 pure tech.

    2. Same thing in 2015 presentation indicating 2018 possible start
    and 3 human studies done + results pics. http://www.jefferies.com/CMSFiles/Jefferies.com/files/Conferences/111815/Presentations/Pure%20Tech%20Health.pdf

    3. 2 supporting publications proving method (obviously there’s unpublished staff as well), with one published in Nature (big shot science journal)
    Studies are :
    Dhurat, R., Sukesh, M. S., Avhad, G., Dandale, A., Pal, A., & Pund, P. (2013). A Randomized Evaluator Blinded Study of Effect of Microneedling in Androgenetic Alopecia: A Pilot Study. International Journal Of Trichology, 5(1), 6-11. doi:10.4103/0974-7753.114700

    to, M., Yang, Z., Andl, T., Cui, C., Kim, N., Millar, S. E., & Cotsarelis, G. (2007). Wnt-dependent de novo hair follicle regeneration in adult mouse skin after wounding. Nature, 447(7142), 316-320. doi:10.1038/nature05766 – theory mainly -The regenerated hair follicles establish a stem cell population, express known molecular markers of follicle differentiation, produce a hair shaft and progress through all stages of the hair follicle cycle.

    I guess people care about results: so for those that cannot access this papers and see some pics available: Dhurat paper results from n= 100, using Follica’s approach as a third party. The mean change in hair count at week 12 was significantly greater for the Microneedling group compared to the Minoxidil group (91.4+-49 (n=50) vs. 22.2 +-19 (n=44) respectively, P = 0.039). Mean hair count for dermaroller group at 12 weeks increased from 226 to 317, minoxidil group 201 -218. after 8 monthsof completion of the study, at the time of writing the manuscript, all patients in the Microneedling group
    reported a sustainable response

    So does it work? Hell ya, at least statistically. Unpublished data probably contains way more staff, I do not expect follica to release them anytime soon. Those interested further read Cotsarelis’s new papers.

  18. I dont understand why they can give us photos of the box but can’t give us photos of what the box can do…? I mean it’s a nice box and everything but this kind of advertisement seems strange. It’s like if samsung were to just show the box for the s8 in a commercial but not the phone just a box that says samsung or Nissan making a new car and just showing the keys twirling around for a minute on the screen cuts out word Nissan pops up end. The box and all of its containments could glow neon but nobody’s gonna buy it if does nothing…well hopefully.

  19. But they do not need investors, they are part of Puretech. So I think the new website, the tweets and this upcoming meeting for dermatologists (they will offer the initial skin perturbation) seems like something is going on and they will bring it to the market in the next few years, I would suppose before 2020.

  20. @That Guy, great post. Lets hope some info from Follicas meeting with Derms will find its way into our hands. I must say that the Instagram post is a pretty bold statement “making hair loss a thing of the past”.

  21. I dont believe the advertising thus far was really meant for the consumer. I think its intended for dermatologists to start their interest as they need them in order to make this happen. They are well aware of the $ that will be made by the consumer and no significant advertising will be needed if its legit. I used to get prp and there would be a room of wealthy older ladies paying out the nose for that stuff.

  22. I’m just going to shave my head this is retarded lol. We’re talking about ear hair and RAIN boxes whether they are in phase 3 or not give me a break

  23. Objectively, how many years (counting possible delays and such) before a full total cure (NW7 to NW1) ? I believe it will be Riken but their 2020 timeline is not a very good joke…
    I’m 22 years old now… do you think that by 30 years old (2024) I will be able to get my hair back?

    1. Yes, i think. But don’t let that hope of a future treatment let you think “i don’t worry about hairloss, when i’ll be 30 i’ll have a cure”. Start with fina as soon as possible. Or other treatment

  24. The king of the hairloss research is ready to launch the product but he is waiting for the final results of the phase 3 ( which he knows what results he is going to get) !

  25. I believe follica will be a game changer. Move us up a couple Norwoods. Mix that with a new potent topical Ike SM then we could some big gains. This is just a gut feeling I have.

    For full on cure..I would says years away. Like 10+ years before actually going to clinic and restoring back to nw0. Tsuji is on the right path but I doubt he will release anything in 2020. I think he will have the procedure all figured out then push it to trials which will take the minimum 5 years with their Japan regulations.

    The real full on cure would be gene therapy where we shut down the hair loss genes and makes our hair immune to whatever is attacking it. Then a kick start regrowth to reactivate all 100,000 follicles that were plagued by thus disease gene we inherited.

    Low Norwoods like nw2 to 4 can probably get back to nw1 with follica and SM. Won’t be thick density where you can gel it up and pull a Paulie D blow out jersey shore hair style but with a little blow drying and conservative hair length it will have the illusion of full head of hair which is GREAT.

    All wishful thinking here but I have a good feeling about Cots. I’ve been to his offices in Philly. They told me in 5 years a new treatment would be out. That was in 2013 Oct. We are at the 5 year mark almost. Fingers crossed!

  26. In my opinion, the most interesting part of that Instagram post about Follica’s Rain is that it both creates brand new hair follicles AND saves existing hairs from miniaturization as well. I was under the impression that it was only being used to grow hair, rather than protect existing ones.

    Hopefully the compound they are using along with dermabrasion is not just minoxidil.

  27. @Red, lets hope its not just Minox. Imo the instagram txt is kinda typical for the hl industry. He posts some info but in a way where hes not making any promises and Rain could be a product with measly results.

    1. As I was planning on responding to someone on HLT, but I can’t because my account there has been rendered useless, strangely well-timed after the Admin of that site accuses me of being “tied in” with this site, if not the Admin of it myself:

      I think one thing people forget about Follica is that it’s an all-or-nothing deal and people are not going to pay for skin disruption/wounding — which is SERIOUS freakin’ business! — unless that method produces real, good results.

      If Follica produces “measly” results, then PureTech would’ve scrapped them by now because immediately after launch, people would be running around saying “Yeah, I got this invasive procedure that if not done correctly could seriously screw my skin up and it produced $#&@ all for hair” that would kill their business right out of the starting gate.

      I doubt anyone would invest 10+ years, god knows how much money and then start marketing easily the most dangerous method of treating hairloss if the results were just “meh”.

  28. Follica works via wnt as well so does histogen. Theres an interesting convergence in the research will definitely impact treatments for many diseases.

  29. I have reading all over the news that scientists can predict when we will get bald by reading our genes…..lol….. or you can just wait and see the receding hair line…..what we need is a cure…

  30. I would like to take a poll here. Who thinks minox will be included in follicas protocol? I, sadly believe minox will be included.

    1. Maybe initially. I think they want something else other than minoxidil, but maybe their forumlation must also go through FDA efficacy trials first.

  31. @That Guy, I know a little about wounding but nothing bout the disruption procedure. How is Follicas method the most dangerous HL treatment procedure? I was under the impression that a method like FUT where a surgeon removes a big chunk of flesh from the scalp is way more dangerous? FUT is by far the treatment where I’ve seen the most horrible scarring.

    1. Follica is the only developing treatment whose method of action relies on damaging the skin in some way. Obviously that makes it the most dangerous. The others use your own cells from a small biopsy or a growth stimulant.

      And yes that’s exactly my point: Would you get FUT done if it didn’t produce aesthetically significant results and you’d just wind up with a scar?

      1. @That Guy I personally don’t think that it is dangerous. ‘Skin wounding’ may sound like you’re damaging the skin but really it’s tiny little micro wounds. I use a dermaroller for stretch marks and all it does is make the skin a little red and tender for like a day and then it’s back to normal, while underneath it makes the healing process trigger. It also allows for any topicals to be far better absorbed. So I wouldn’t agree that just because it involves wounding it makes it dangerous 🙂

  32. Hi admin I hope you don’t mind me posting this here but I was wondering if anyone on here wants to buy my 14 month supply of finasteride. Started taking about a year ago but started getting unwanted sides and now going cold turkey. I’m UK based and would be looking to sell to someone in the UK.

    Also as an aside – great website admin! I come here weekly for updates on hair loss research and also find your pieces on other scientific research really interesting. Keep it up 🙂

  33. @That Guy, thank you for your reply. Well, I would personally never get a FUT treatment. I’ve never seen good FUT results, and have come across several ppl who had the treatment and got nothing more than a hideous scar or, at best, some very pluggy strands of hair sticking out of their scalp.
    But back to Follica – It will be VERY interesting to see how much info will reach the public after their presentation on the 4th.

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