Category Archives: Foxc1

Brief Items of Interest, March 2016

Hair loss news first:

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.

— I have covered Dr. Colin Jahoda and his 3D spheroid culturing of dermal papilla cells on this blog before.  Mr. Jahoda has been a legend in the hair loss research world since the 1980s, but it seems like he may have reached the end of his best years in terms of research.  Thankfully, the Chinese are continuing from where he left off.  A team from Southern Medical University (China) and Dr. Malcolm Xing from Canada have published an interesting update on their work with 3D spheroids.  It seems like they have improved somewhat on Dr. Jahoda’s work with a novel hanging-drop method. I am glad that they are continuing this area of crucial research.  Note that Dr. Xing gave Dr. Jahoda a good deal of credit when I interviewed the former.

— 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.

Follicum press release:  successful Phase 1 safety trials.

— Antonio Conte’s hair transplant seems to have turned out to be pretty good.

Christopher1’s experience with Kerastem thread worth following. Under my last post someone posted a comment that the treatment did not work and costs a lot.

— 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):

— Another recent one with just Dr. Bill Andrews:

— And another recent one with just Liz Parrish:

How long until we can print human faces in the lab?

One Reason Hair Thins is Because Some of it Turns 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.

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


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.  The studies were not widely covered in the general media.   In a rarity, the UK’s gossip rag Daily Mail seems to be sleeping when compared to its usually immediate and superb coverage or hair loss cure research and celebrity hair loss related news.  Another UK-based paper, The Guardian, did cover these two studies and a lot of people have already made mostly nonsensical comments to that article.  (Note that the author of this article seems to have typed COL17A1 as COL17AL, and some of the text in there seems like it was written by a non-scientist.  He also forgets to mention that one of the studies also entailed experiments in humans).

The first study (thanks to commentator “nosyu” for letting me know) from Japan has the somewhat difficult to understand title “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 Collagen 17A1 (see more on COL17A1 here).  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 found that these mice then had no follicle-generating cells.

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.  It seems like Foxc1 regulates the hair growth cycle, and perhaps manipulating this in future could prevent balding.