There were three important developments in the world of hair loss in December 2019 that I did not cover in separate posts. Mostly because these days I am too impatient to take interest in new findings that will likely not lead to any groundbreaking treatment in the short term.
Dermal Sheath Contraction and Hair Loss
Dr. Michael Rendl and his team at the Icahn School of Medicine in New York discovered that preventing the dermal sheath smooth muscle from contracting could stop hair loss. In future, a drug could prevent such muscle contraction and one would never shed hair. The best way to avoid androgenetic alopecia (AGA) is to stop hair from falling out in the first place. This treatment of blocking contraction of the sheath muscle has the potential to do just that in the future. Actual study here.
Lymphatic System Involved in Hair Loss
Another renowned hair loss researcher from New York that I have covered in the past is Dr. Elaine Fuchs. In December, her team at Rockefeller University found that the lymphatic system plays a key role in hair regeneration. Hair follicle stem cells control the behavior of lymphatic capillaries. This discovery can lead to new therapeutic targets for lymph-related conditions, including wound-healing defects and hair loss. Actual study here.
CRISPR/Cas9 Delivery System for AGA
Also in December 2019, South Korean scientists published an important paper on using CRISPR/Cas9 to treat androgenetic alopecia. They used ultrasound delivery and activation of nanoliposomal particles. The researchers successfully transferred protein constructs into hair follicle dermal papilla cells.
There are very few studies on the use of CRISPR and gene therapy (or gene modification) to treat hair loss. Hopefully, this will start to change in the near future. Most scientists are interested in using CRISPR to treat medical problems rather than cosmetic ones. It will always be easier to get government approval for the former rather than the latter.
Did anyone see Unnatural Selection on Netflix, which was released in December? I recommend doing so.
Since the last “brief items of interest” post a month ago, there have been numerous important developments in the hair loss world. Some involve renowned researchers that have already been covered a few times on this blog before.
— Meiji Seika Pharma (Japan) and Dr. Takashi Tsuji, head of the Laboratory for Organ Regeneration at the Riken Center for Developmental Biology (Japan), have entered into an important partnership. Their goal is “to develop treatments to regrow lost hair.” Apparently 12 million adult men in Japan suffer from hair loss. The partnership will focus on regenerative medicine rather than on any kind of drug development. Japan’s new laws will also help speed up clinical trials in the regenerative medicine sector.
— Also in Japan, a new article on Shiseido mostly covers things we already know and confirms that they will start trials this year. However, the ending is of interest: “The fee to receive the treatment will be at least 100,000 yen ($887).” A lot cheaper than I expected.
— Another renowned researcher that I have covered before, Dr. Elaine Fuchs, just published an important article summarizing how stem cells get activated to produce new hair. Forkhead box C1 (FOXC1) is a key transcriptional regulator of hair follicle stem cell activity and bulge maintenance. Also see another summary of the same study. One of the interesting conclusions of the article seems to imply that premature hair loss is also correlated with premature hair greying. Something I have noticed in many people. “Hair follicle stem cells influence the behavior of melanocyte stem cells, which co-inhabit the bulge niche,” explains Fuchs. “Thus, when the numbers of hair follicle stem cells declined with age, so too did the numbers of melanocyte stem cells, resulting in premature greying of whatever hairs were left.”
— Tiny Singapore might have a stagnant and small population, but they still care about hair loss. Their scientists (plus others from Stanford) recently published a paper covering the gene Axin2 and autocrine Wnt/β-catenin signaling. Complicated stuff to understand for a non-scientist such as myself.
— A new cream based hair loss treatment from Yeditepe University called Kelopesia was just announced out of the blue. Their presentation is amateurish, and as soon as I hear the words “stem cells” along with “hair” these days my scam radar turns on unless the company or institution has been involved in the hair loss research field for many years. Anyway, these guys are using foreskins for this treatment. Product will supposedly be released in a month. If it was not a university, I would say a 100 percent certainty this is a scam. I still feel that this is going to be a major disappointment.
— At least once a year, we in the US get to read a story about a major Rogaine theft. Invariably, the thief is bald and this is emphasized by the media. I suspect all of these bald Rogaine thieves are selling most of the stolen cans rather than using their contents on their own scalps.
And now on to medical items of interest:
I will shorten this section for this month since the hair loss one was so lengthy.
— An interesting recent video interview/discussion with Dr. Aubrey de Grey, Dr. Bil Andrews and Elizabeth (Liz) Parrish (all three of whom I have covered on this blog before):