Category Archives: COL17A1

Biotechs Target Baldness Market

Biotechs Target Baldness Market

— The latest issue of Nature Biology has an interesting article titled “Biotechs target stagnant baldness market.” My favorite and at the same time least favorite sentence from the article:  “It’s been 25 years since Propecia (finasteride), from Merck of Kenilworth, New Jersey, was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1992.

— Thanks to commentator “nosyu” from Japan for posting a link with news from today regarding hair and skin focused Japanese company Adjuvant Cosmetics. It is partnering with Dr. Takashi Tsuji (RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology) and Organ Technologies to conduct joint research on product development for hair and scalp problems.

— Of all the researchers and companies involved in the hair loss world, Replicel has provided us with the most regular updates. This past month has been no exception. Here is a new video with Replicel’s CEO Lee Buckler starting his presentation at 16:11. The presentation was part of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO)’s “Investing in Japan” conference in Toronto, Canada that took place on January 29th 2016. The focus of the conference was on Japan’s booming regenerative medicine market. Lee also discusses Replicel’s partner Shiseido.

— Study from Japan suggests that COL17A1 (collagen gene) could be a new target for therapy in preventing hair loss.

Kerastem clinical trial page was updated at the end of January 2016. Go under the locations section of that page to see if there is a clinic near you where you can volunteer. US only for now it seems.

Excellent new article summarizing latest hair loss treatment options. One of the co-authors is the famous Dr. Antonella Tosti.

Polichem (which is working on a topical Finasteride product called P-3074) was purchased by Spain’s Almirall. Also see this new positive study from Italy on P-3074.

Irish men are increasingly opting for hair transplants like Wayne Rooney. Is a reduction in alcohol consumption next?

And now on to medical items of interest:

Partisanship in the US hurting 21st Century Cures Act. Thank goodness for Japan, Canada, UK and probably some other countries by now.

— I have discussed Dr. Anthony Atala and the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine several times on this blog before. This week, both were widely covered by the media due to the completion of their 3D bioprinter that can make bone, cartilage and muscle (a culmination of 10 years of work it seems). Full journal article here. No mention about hair in there, but a Canadian team’s 3D bioprinter related article from 2014 mentions the eventual feasibility of adding hair follicles to the new skin. Some quotes from Dr. Atala here.

UK scientists get gene editing go ahead. Now western scientists may become less prone to criticize the Chinese too much like they did last year.

Oldest heart transplant recipient dies 33 years after getting a new heart. Amazing story. In another article I read, his son said that he died from kidney problems and still had no heart problems.

— If you have older family members that you want to live longer, you might want to find a sketchy doctor who can help remove their senescent worn out cells without government approval.

A major boost for cryonics.

A major boost for cancer treatment (using immune cells).

COL17A1 Damage: Hair Thinning and Turning into Skin

Update: A blog reader from Brazil sent me something very interesting yesterday. Apparently, there was a study published less than two months ago that concluded that chronic inflammation was turning eye cells into skin cells! Read more here.

Today, the prestigious Science Magazine published two new studies related to hair loss and stem cells. They also had a brief summary on the link between aging, stem cells and alopecia, authored by Dr. Cheng-Ming Chuong from USC who I have mentioned on this blog before.

Update: Below news now also covered in many other sources, including Time, Wired, Guardian and (of course) the Daily Mail.

Collagen 17A1 and Shrinking Stem Cells

The first study from Japan is titled “Hair follicle aging is driven by transepidermal elimination of stem cells via COL17A1 proteolysis.” For non-scientists, the contents of that study are not very easy to understand without spending some time googling the various technical terms listed in there.

However, an easier to understand article analyzing the above study’s findings concludes that “One reason your hair is thinning is because some of it turns into skin.” The study also discusses shedding of epidermal keratinocytes from the skin surface. A lot of people complain about dandruff, itching and dermatitis throughout their scalp while they are slowly balding, and I have had those problems many times in the past decade.

Nizoral and sunshine have both helped me tackle those problems, but I can never seem to go for more than a few days without at least some itching and skin shedding. Note that a Japanese article on this study actually mentions the word “dandruff” in there when you translate to English.

The study authors found that hair follicles in women over age 55 were smaller and with lower levels of the protein Collagen 17A1 (see more on COL17A1 here). Age-related DNA damage triggers the destruction COL17A1. This in turn triggers the transformation into “epidermal keratinocytes”, aka skin.

It is good to see a study that is devoted to female hair loss sufferers. Moreover, one of the lead authors of the study is also a female by the name of Dr. Emi Nishimura. The researchers also engineered mice to lack the COL17A1 gene, and then found that these mice had no follicle-generating cells.

Foxc1 Activates Nfatc1 and BMP signaling

The second study is titled “Foxc1 reinforces quiescence in self-renewing hair follicle stem cells.”  Foxc1 (also known as Forkhead box C1) belongs to the Forkhead family of proteins and transcription factors.

Per these scientists from the University of Colorado, Foxc1 regulates the hair growth cycle, and perhaps manipulating this in future could prevent balding. There is also a strong link between Foxc1, Nfatc1 and bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling.