New Biochemical Material PTD-DBM to Target CXXC5

Edit: It seems like this CXXC5 targeting study discussed in this post was first published in June 2017. Not sure why they now have a newer November 2017 publication date. Nor why the global media only covered it so intensively this past week.

A Reddit thread on this went bonkers with over 2,500 comments.

Update: August 2020 — A new paper on KY19382 (a novel activator of Wnt/β-catenin signaling) was submitted in 2020 (approved in 2021). KY19382 works via the inhibition of the interaction between CXXC-type zinc finger protein 5 (CXXC5) and Dishevelled (Dvl). One of the authors is Dr. Kang-Yell Choi.

Update: February 2021: South Korean company CK Biotech is working on a CXXC5 product for hair loss via developing the PTD-DBM peptide. In February, 2021 they managed to raise $12 million in Series B funding. The company’s CEO is Dr. Kang-Yell Choi whose work I discuss later in this post. On their site, they discuss the CXXC5 and PTD-DBM per below:

CXXC5 and PTD-DM
CXXC5 and PTD-DM peptide for hair loss.

Last week, several of my alerts led to South Korean websites that discussed new successful local research targeting the Wnt pathway to reverse hair loss. Since I very recently wrote a post concerning the Wnt pathway, I was planning to save this news for my next “brief items of interest” post. However, four different readers commented about this news in the past week. And there are now many online news articles being published on this subject daily. So I decided to write a second post related to Wnt in less than a month.

Targeting of CXXC5 by PTD-DBM Causes Hair Regrowth

The actual paper was published in the prestigious Journal of Investigative Dermatology. South Korean scientists found that CXXC-type zinc finger protein 5 (CXXC5) is a negative regulator of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway. In fact, CXXC5 is upregulated in both thinning hair and arrector pili muscles in balding scalps. The lead author is Dr. Kang-Yell Choi.

The scientists managed to disrupt something termed as the “CXXC5-Dishevelled interaction” with a newly developed competitor peptide biomaterial called PTD-DBM. This resulted in activation of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway and accelerated hair regrowth and wound-induced hair follicle neogenesis in mice. Yet more evidence on the benefits of wounding?

Interestingly, at the start of the above paper, they also mention the famous hair loss researcher Dr. Luis Garza and his recent paper (co-authored with Dr. Dangwon Kim) titled “The Negative Regulator CXXC5: Making WNT Look a Little Less Dishevelled“. Perhaps Dr. Garza is also collaborating on this research?

Valproic Acid and Hair

Also of interest, the scientists added valproic acid into the mix and found that it sped up hair growth in the mice. There has been evidence on the benefits of valproic acid on scalp hair growth in the past. In fact a seminal work on the subject also came from South Korea in 2014, when scientists found that topical valproic acid increases hair counts in balding men. Apparently, valproic activates the activates the Wnt/β-catenin pathway (and inhibits glycogen synthase kinase 3β).

Dr. Kang-Yell Choi in South Korean Papers

Below are some of the online South Korean sites that covered this story. This research must be significant enough to be covered in so many local sources. Moreover, while the research team was led by Dr. Kang-Yell Choi of Yonsei University, some of the below sources suggest involvement of the South Korean Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning in this work.

Future PTD-DBM Drug Development

The UK’s Metro newspaper covered this story today. Key quote from Kang-Yell Choi, the main researcher involved:

“We have found a protein that controls the hair growth and developed a new substance that promotes hair regeneration by controlling the function of the protein. We expect that the newly developed substance will contribute to the development of a drug that not only treats hair loss but also regenerate damaged skin tissues”.

Mr. Kang-Yell Choi seems to have many patents related to the Wnt/β-catenin pathway to his name. He even has his own wikipedia entry.

Brief Items of Interest, November 2017

Hair related updates at the bottom today.

— Last month, I decided to stop covering medical items of interest in my once a month “brief items of interest” posts. It was becoming a bit too much work to try to pick around 5-10 of the most interesting medical developments each month among the 100s out there.

Lo and behold comes today’s potentially blockbuster medical development regarding a subject matter that I have covered on this blog several times before: the world’s first ever head transplant (or more accurately, a “full body transplant” onto an existing “live” head). It seems like the world’s first successful head transplant ***albeit between two dead people*** has just taken place successfully in China under the supervision of Dr. Xiaoping Ren (with input from Dr. Sergio Canavero/aka Dr. Frankenstein), both of whom I have covered on this blog in the past. However, the procedure was undertaken between two cadavers (i.e., dead people) so is still not really a proper head transplant. Dr. Canavero claims that the transplantation of a live human’s head to a deceased human’s still working body (i.e., a true “full body” transplant) is now absolutely imminent. Lots of coverage about this in the media today and continued skepticism (but significantly less so than in the past). Is Dr. Canavero just in it for the fame or is he for real?

— Also, from the past two weeks, the first man to have his genes edited inside his body (US); and  successful skin epidermis replacement via gene modification (Germany). Both developments are major groundbreaking medical breakthroughs.

And in Hair Research Updates:

Excellent effort by “Hellouser” in his hairlosstalk updates from the recent World Congress for Hair Research. An absolute must read.

Dr. Rachita Dhurat is at it again. This time, her team makes the surprising conclusion that “A caffeine-based topical liquid should be considered as not inferior to minoxidil 5% solution in men with androgenetic alopecia“. There have been a number of studies over the years that suggest caffeine to beneficial towards hair growth. The stimulating effects of caffeine can reduce hair loss in some cases.

— Latest Aclaris patent grants covering baricitinib, decernotinib, ruxolitinib, and tofacitinib. It seems like all four can end up being used for treating androgenetic alopecia, especially tofacitinib.

— Reader “omg” posted a very interesting link today to a paper co-authored by renowned hair loss researchers Dr. Neil Saddick and Dr. Valerie Callender and others titled “New Insight Into the Pathophysiology of Hair Loss Trigger a Paradigm Shift in the Treatment Approach“. Lots of discussion in there about the role of inflammation in hair loss. The whole paper can be downloaded from the above link.

— Histogen and Dr. Gail Naughton covered in Allure Magazine. Key quote:

“The U.S. trials are planned to commence in 2018; we expect it to gain approval in Mexico first, perhaps in 2020, and then in the U.S. sometime after that”.

— UK male model Jeremy McConnell gets a hair transplant and beard transplant in Turkey.