Category Archives: Wnt/Beta-Catenin

Fractional Lasers to Stimulate Hair Regrowth

Fractional Erbium:YAG (or Er:YAG) lasers can lead to scalp hair growth per a number of recent studies. Both ablative and non-ablative Erbium lasers have been used to treat hair loss.

Note that the fractional lasers discussed in this post have significantly higher wavelengths (1,500-3,000 nm) than typical low-level laser therapy (LLLT) home-use devices (650 nm). Fractional laser treatments must be undertaken at professional clinics and never at home.

Fractional laser treatments are unique in that they work at both the upper epidermal and lower dermal layers of the skin. Other laser light treatments are either ablative or non-ablative.

Here is some information on ablative versus non-ablative lasers and on fractional lasers. Also see this excellent overview from 2012 of all four combinations of lasers being implied here. Note that fractional carbon dioxide (CO2) lasers have also been used for hair growth.

Update: January 21, 2024

Non-Ablative Fractional Laser Superior to 5% Minoxidil

A new study from China (h/t “Kyle”) just found that a 1565 nm non-ablative fractional laser (NAFL) exhibits superior hair growth in comparison to topical minoxidil 5%. The better results were seen in: total hair count; total hair density; terminal hair count; terminal hair density; number of follicle units; and average hair numbers per hair follicle unit. Quite convincing.

The study consisted of 30 male participants with androgenetic alopecia (AGA). Half got treated with the lasers, and the other half with minoxidil. No significant side effects were noticed. Below is one of the before (baseline) and after (week 10) photos. While the hair regrowth is not easily evident in the scalp photo, the magnified close-up and the tables in the actual study garner greater confidence.

Fractional Laser Hair Growth
1565 nm non-ablative fractional laser hair growth, before and after (10 weeks) photos. Source: Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology.

Update: April 14, 2022

Er:YAG Lasers for Hair Growth

A number of new studies have been published since I originally wrote this post. All seem to use the Erbium lasers for hair growth.

— Ablative fractional 2940-nm erbium:YAG laser to treat hair loss in a male Korean patient. They used the locally made PURAXEL laser. The before and after photo from this September 2021 study is shown below:

Fractional Laser Hair Growth
Fractional Erbium:YAG Laser Hair Growth. Before an After.

— A study from August 2021 concluded that a non-ablative 2940-nm Er:YAG laser is an effective tool in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia. The authors made use of the Fotona’s SP Dynamis laser system in SMOOTH ™ mode.

Erbium Laser and PRP Hair Loss
Erbium Laser and PRP combination hair loss treatment.

— A unique 2021 study from Russia found that combination therapy consisting of non-ablative 2940-nm Er:YAG laser plus platelet-rich plasma injections resulted in very significant hair regrowth.

The SP Dynamis (Fontona) fractional laser was utilized in SMOOTH™ mode. The before and after image on the right is impressive.

May 11, 2015

Fractional Laser Hair Growth Stimulation via Wounding

The reason I thought about lasers again this week is because several days ago an interesting May 2015 article from South Korea was published in the Lasers in Surgery and Medicine journal.

The conclusion of this article is that ablative fractional lasers appear to be effective in inducing hair regrowth via activation of the Wnt/Beta-Catenin pathway. I have discussed the Wnt/Beta-Catenin pathway in numerous posts on this blog before. Note that the way these lasers work is somewhat related to the concept of wounding and hair growth.

Apparently, even before this latest development, there have already been a few published journal articles from Asian researchers covering both ablative and non-ablative fractional lasers and their positive impact on hair growth. For example see:

  • April 2015: Enhancing hair follicle regeneration by non-ablative fractional erbium-glass laser: The laser wavelength was 1550 nm. Note that the erbium laser is almost always ablative, but this one was non-ablative.
  • December 2011: The effect of a 1550 nm fractional erbium-glass laser in female pattern hair loss.
  • January 2011: Fractional photothermolysis laser treatment of male pattern hair loss. Also using the 1550 nm erbium-glass laser.

In the latest South Korean study in mice, it was found that the most effective (ablative) laser dosage was “the 10 mJ/spot and 300 spots/cm2 setting”. Hopefully some of these scientists will soon conduct studies on humans.

It does seem like light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation (LASER) can now legitimately be considered as a tool in the fight against hair loss. It is likely that in the years ahead, scientists will experiment with many newer lasers and with various duration and power settings.

JW Pharmaceutical to Begin Clinical Trials in 2024

Update: August 29, 2023

JW Pharmaceutical’s JW0061 Wnt-targeted hair loss treatment just got selected as the “first national new drug development project” in 2023 in South Korea. Additionally, the company signed a research and development agreement with the Korea Drug Development Fund (KDDF). As a results, JW Pharmaceutical will receive nonclinical research funding for JW0061 for the next two years from the KDDF.

July 22, 2023

JW Pharmaceutical’s JW0061 Hair Loss Treatment

I previously mentioned JW Pharmaceutical (South Korea) in my post on activating the Wnt signaling pathway for hair growth. The latter is also referred to as the Wnt/β-Catenin pathway.

JW Pharmaceutical’s JW0061 is a first-in-class drug candidate that promotes hair regeneration by activating the Wnt pathway in skin and hair follicle stem cells. However, the company is yet to begin Phase 1 clinical trials, so I delayed writing an entire post on them.

Previously, by far the most well known company that was working in this area of Wnt activation and hair loss was the much hyped Samumed (US). Unfortunately, it folded in 2022 despite completing Phase 3 clinical trials.

Also of note, another South Korean company named CK Regeon (previously CK Biotech) is working on a much anticipated peptide to restore Wnt/beta-catenin signaling and hair growth. This peptide is known as PTD-DDM or KY19382. It works by inhibiting the interaction between CXXC-type zinc finger protein 5 (CXXC5) and dishevelled (Dvl). Very different from JW Pharma’s mechanism of action (see further below).

JW Pharmaceutical Wnt Activator
JW Pharmaceutical Wnt Activator (JW0061) for Hair Growth.

JW Pharmaceutical to Begin Clinical Trials in 2024

Yesterday, a reader sent me a link to an update on JW Pharmaceutical’s patent application for its JW0061 Wnt activator product. Apparently, the company has applied for patents in over ten countries. They already got a patent approved in Russia in March 2023, and have now obtained a patent in Australia.

On JW Pharma’s website, the product is listed as being in pre-clinical phase on the pipeline page. However, in this latest article, there is an encouraging quote:

“JW Pharmaceutical is currently conducting toxicity evaluation according to Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) at global institutions with the goal of starting clinical trials of JW0061 in the first half of 2024.”

This is confirmation of an estimate JW Pharmaceutical also gave last year. According to a company representative, JW0061 will complement and replace existing hair loss treatments. JW plans to develop JW0061 as a topical drug.

Note that even as far back as 2017, JW Pharma partnered with U Penn and Dr. George Cotsarelis to develop this very treatment. It was at the time called CWL080061.

Activating the Wnt Pathway by Binding to the GFRA1 Protein

In November 2022, JW gave a detailed update on their website in regards to the mechanism behind JW0061 and its hair growth effect. This was based on a presentation given at the Wnt 2022 conference in Japan. See the enlarged image here.

It demonstrated preclinical efficacy for hair regeneration in mice. According to preclinical data, JW0061 activates the Wnt signaling pathway by directly binding to the GFRA1 protein in dermal papilla cells.

Wnt/β-catenin signaling is crucial for hair growth in any area of the human body. It is the most researched area in the hair loss world. I must have written at least 50 posts on this blog in which I at least briefly mention Wnt. Even wounding (such as from microneedling or fractional lasers) induced hair growth is connected to activation of the Wnt/Beta-Catenin pathway.

Some natural products such as methyl vanillate also activate the Wnt/β-Catenin signaling pathway and promote hair growth. Dr. John Cole’s company used to sell a Wnt Act spray on Amazon, but it is always out of stock these days.