Category Archives: Fiona Watt

Link Between Hair Cells and Fat Cells may Lead to Fat Dissolving Cream

Hair loss researchers have in recent years published a few studies related to the link between fat cells and hair cells. In the latest findings, a new research paper by Dr. Fiona Watt, Dr. Rodney Sinclair and others concluded that epidermal Wnt/β-catenin is a critical initiator of a signaling cascade. This induces adipogenesis, and:

Highlights the importance of epidermal Wnt signaling in synchronizing adipocyte differentiation with the hair growth cycle.

Fat Dissolving Cream

Apparently, the implications of this work are that a fat dissolving cream could soon be invented.

Of course most of us are interested in the hair loss aspect of this research and not too concerned about the fat cells link. However, excessive fat/obesity is now becoming as common as baldness in men, and is in fact far more common than baldness in women. Many obese people do not eat too much and are not lazy as often depicted in the media.

Rather, their genetics and hormonal makeup often makes it close to impossible for them to loose and keep too much weight off.  Even with their best effort to exercise and limit caloric intake daily, some people will always be 50 pounds overweight.

It is therefore not surprising that the same pathways examined in prior hair loss related research are now being examined in order to potentially develop a blockbuster fat dissolving cream.

Unfortunately, even if developed, such a cream would not aid in reducing the more dangerous excessive visceral fat around our essential organs. The fat that would be reduced is the less dangerous subcutaneous fat, which is cosmetically distressing for a lot of people.

Skin Fibroblasts for Skin Repair and Hair Growth

Scientists at King’s College London have for the first time identified the unique properties of two different types of fibroblast cells in the skin. One type is required for hair growth; and the other type is responsible for the repairing of skin wounds.

Fibroblasts and Skin Repair
Fibroblasts and Skin Repair.

The research was published in Nature and led by Dr. Fiona Watt, Director of the Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine at King’s College London. Also see Watt Lab for more on her team’s interesting work. Of the three skin layers (epidermis, dermis and hypodermis), they are most interested in the outermost epidermis layer.

Fibroblasts for Skin Repair and Hair Growth

Fibroblasts are a type of cell that is found in the connective tissue of our organs. They produce proteins that make up the ECM, such as collagen and elastin. Until this study came out, it was generally believed that all fibroblasts are the same cell type.

According to the new findings of this study (in mice), there are at least two distinct types of fibroblast cells in the skin:

  • Those in the upper layer of connective tissue that are required for the formation of hair follicles.
  • Those in the lower layer of connective tissue. These fibroblasts are responsible for making most of the skin’s collagen fibres. Along with the initial repair mechanism wave after skin is damaged.

The research team found that the quantity of these skin fibroblasts can be increased by signals from the overlying epidermis. Moreover, an increase in fibroblasts in the upper layer of the skin results in hair follicles forming during wound healing. These findings could ultimately lead to treatments that can repair injured human skin, and also reduce the impact of ageing on skin function.

According to Professor Fiona Watt, the thickness and compostion of human skin deteriorate as we age. This means that older skin is more prone to injury and takes a longer time to heal. The key reason could be due to a loss of upper dermal fibroblasts. Therefore it may be possible to restore the skin’s youthful elasticity by finding ways to stimulate these cells to regrow. Such an approach might ultimately  stimulate hair growth and also reduce scarring.

The goal of this research is skin repair, but in the process it will also shed light on yet another potential avenue to a hair loss cure. It should be noted, however, that clinical trials are still required to examine the effectiveness of injecting different types of fibroblasts into human skin.