Of Mice and Men

Virtually all hair related research at universities, clinics and private labs starts with experimentation in mice or rats. In some cases, they move on to hamsters and macaques.

Per the Foundation for Biomedical Research, 95 percent of all lab animals are mice and rats. I am guessing that the smaller sized mice represent a much higher share of this 95 percent in comparison to the larger sized rats.

During my research for this post, I read that one of the main differences between mice and rats is that while the former are very curious, the latter are fairly cautious. i.e., the smaller rodent is braver (or more foolish) than the larger rodent. When I saw “Rats”, I did not find rats to be particularly cautious. According to that documentary, rats are the most successful species on earth. They will surely outlast us, as will cockroaches.

Successful Hair Growth in Mice and Rats

Since I first started writing this blog, the single biggest pet peeve of most readers as well as myself has been:

Why is hair loss regularly cured in mice and other rodents, but never in humans?

Forget the word “cure”. Even a moderately effective hair loss treatment would be welcome. The countless groundbreaking successes in hair regrowth in mice over the past several decades have never even translated into any major hair loss treatment for humans. This travesty has been going on for way too long.

Mice Growing Hair
Dr. Tsuji’s Famous Mouse Growing Hair.

All we can do is hope than sooner or later, someone like Dr. Tsuji will emulate his success in mice -> to success in humans -> to a final product release. In many cases, positive results in mice and then in small-scale human trials never progress to a final product release due to lack of funding or corporate interest.

However, this should change in the next several years as a number of companies start or complete final Phase 3 clinical human trials for various new hair growth products.

The main reasons researchers like to use mice and rats for their hair loss research work are:

  • Low cost.
  • An abundant and plentiful supply.
  • Small creature size making housing, feeding and maintenance relatively easy.
  • Short 2-3 year lifespan making generational study possible.
  • Mice and humans share about 97.5 percent of their working DNA. Almost as similar as the relationship between humans and the great apes.

Two New Hair Loss Cures in Mice in July 2018

Note: I am a bit uncertain if mouse or rat fur can be compared to human scalp hair more than to human body hair. In humans, scalp hair and body hair often have an inverse relationship.

Mitochondrial Repair and Hair Growth

As a result of the earlier mentioned pet peeve, I initially decided to ignore the biggest hair loss related news story of this month from several weeks ago. Scientists from the University of Alabama (led by Dr. Keshav Singh of Yuva Biosciences) managed to reverse hair loss and skin wrinkling in mice. Actual study findings are here. The scientists managed to reverse mitochondrial dysfunction (which they induced in the first place), which in turn reversed hair loss and wrinkling in mice.

Mitochondria and Hair Growth
Reversal of wrinkles and hair loss after mitochondrial DNA replication is resumed. Credit: University of Alabama.

This news was covered extensively by the global media. I decided to skip writing about these findings, and instead focused on keeping my posts on the important recent developments from Histogen and Cassiopea on the front page of this blog a little longer. Both of these companies are going to complete final Phase 3 trials in humans in the next several years. In contrast, The University of Alabama research might not even ever make it to Phase 1 trials in humans.

Reversal of Fatty Diet Associated Hair Loss and Hair Whitening

However, yesterday came news of yet another major development in regards to scientists curing hair loss in mice. So I finally had to write this post on rodents getting back their hair (and their hair color and their youthful skin) twice in the past two weeks. It is ironic that rodents do not even care one iota about their appearance.

High Fat Diet Hair Mouse
Credit: Johns Hopkins University.

This time, the latest research was in regards to hair loss in mice that was associated with a bad “western” diet high in fat and cholesterol. Actual study findings are here. The cure entails daily ingestion of a pill that the mice will have to remember to take. The compound halts the production of certain types of fats known as glycosphingolipids (GSLs).

The research was undertaken by scientists at Johns Hopkins University (led by Dr. Subroto Chatterjee). One of the interesting quotes in relation to this work was that:

“Current research shows that mice fed a diet high in fat and cholesterol are more likely to have hair discoloration from black to gray to white, extensive hair loss and inflammation of skin exhibited by multiple wounds.”

Long-time readers of this blog will know that this link between bad diet and hair loss has often been blamed for increasing hair loss in Japanese men since the end of World War II. I think that men and women in all countries are losing hair at earlier ages than in past generations. I was never too keen about this diet and hair loss argument, but perhaps there is something to it?

54 thoughts on “Of Mice and Men”

  1. I know a ton of overweight guys who eat junk food, sodas and lack exercise and have thick heads of hair. I eat healthy Mediterranean diet, exercise daily and been losing ground weekly. The fat diet study is bs. It may cause you to shed but that hair isn’t mpb related so it’s most likely reversable once you heat healthy again.

  2. I know many people are fed on a system rich in fat and cholesterol and did not fall hair or have wrinkles; but there is an enzyme or hormone is the key to the secret treatment of baldness.

  3. I have an amazing movie story…. mjones is a hair scientist working on genetically changed mice and one night the rat bites mjones and he becomes Ratman….next day morning he gets up and sees hair every where except on head….lol

      1. Hey MJones, I deleted your comment because I actually have a post on that subject coming in the next few months most likely. Wanted to keep the suspense.

        Not really a great treatment, but worth discussing.

  4. Yeah I think diet is ambiguous. Mitochondria is a whole other issue I never considered on the other hand.

  5. How much castor oil is everyone drinking? I’m up to a 17ml dose every day and have never felt any urge to use the bathroom as a result.

    1. Can you drink castor oil? Thought it was for topical use only….anywho is your hair improving at all with it?

      1. Castor oil can be used as a topical and oral treatment as noted on swissTemples’ website. It’s basically a weak seti. He only did 2 ml though, and said anymore than that acted like a laxative. The results are a few more vellus that are slowly thickening around my temples where I also have been using it as a topical. I will probably add in wounding a couple of times a month to see if I can jump start anymore growth in the area. I’ve also been on the big three for over 15 years.

    1. Inducement grants are granted to new employees who join Aclaris. It has nothing to do with hairloss per se.

      Tomorrow,Aclaris will announce their financial results for Q2. This is where might be a possibility that any latest hairloss announcements be made, if any.

  6. The study materials and methods doesn’t go into much detail about the actual composition of the “western diet” other than specifying 20% fat and 1.25% cholesterol. It would be more helpful to know the type(s) of fats and the carb/protein composition of this diet as well as detailed breakdowns of the other diets. There are multiple studies linking androgenic alopecia to insulin resistance to which the biggest contributors are likely excessive consumption of high glycemic carbohydrates, and oxidative stress (high omega-6 polyunsaturated oil diet may be a major factor).

  7. I’m religiously waiting for Dr Tsuji’s stem cell transplantation.

    But recently found out that due to complications, the density has to be much lower than the hair’s natural density… And people who transplant say that they can’t grow hair very long and it looks fake and hard to grow long. They also say lowering the hairline to even lower than highschool level would be a bad idea.

    All this is so disappointing to me. I guess I will never get my original hairline back with natural density. It’s terrible !

    1. also if this mitochondria research and age reversing thing goes well, we can live hundreds of years and maybe cure aging even. Sounds funny – I want to live like elves but my marriage won’t last that long.

  8. Human AGA Research in mice and rats is pathetic, utterly pointless. We learn more about murinae rodent hair growth and basically nothing about AGA and AGA subtypes.

    Recreation and cultivation of human scalp hair follicles is the only trustworthy methodology and research in this field (prior to slow yet necessary clinical trials) as it provides transcriptome and proteome data and enables gen editing in the long run.

    Human organ culture opens new doors to less regulations and tremendously cheaper and faster results yet in reality those researchers in power are slow to adapt the inevitable or on a careless funding/publicizing (mostly nonsense) drug trip..

  9. A perfect future will include good health, curing and reversing aging with the mitochondria thing, a baldness cure, ultra high resolution virtual reality, self-driving cars (car trips while sleeping), a 300+ foot NASA rocket with plans for Mars, a ridiculously giant space telescope, and Infinity War Part 2. Believe it or not.. All could easily happen in just a decade. Let’s just hope we survive this President and the coming A.I. singularity :-)

    1. Hope we survive this president?
      Has he threatend us with death? Good lord so overdramatic.
      Just calm down and breathe, im sure youll survive.

    1. I’m currently listening to the Aclaris call. Should there be some good news related to AGA, other than what we already know so far, will update accordingly.

  10. Fur is not hair. Many examples of successful hair regrowth in mice does not necessarily reflect in human studies.

  11. @Champpy

    No mention apart the phase 2 trial. Should any regrowth have been noticed during the trial so far, I think that Aclaris would have mentioned something in this regard, just like what happened in the case of jak trials for eyebrows regrowth.

    1. It was a long shot. And a lot of scientific progress is made by just trying stuff. But I think a very large part of our guy nasa’s world has just fell apart.

        1. They do not list current results status for a bunch of ongoing trials. No reason to assume positive or negative conclusions for trials ending in 2019.

          AA-201 Topical – an ongoing Phase 2 dose ranging trial of ATI-502 for the topical treatment of AA. This trial will evaluate the efficacy of two concentrations of ATI-502 on the regrowth of hair in a randomized, double-blinded, parallel-group, vehicle-controlled trial in up to 120 patients with AA. This trial is being conducted in the United States and data are expected in the first half of 2019.

          VITI-201 Topical – an ongoing Phase 2 open-label clinical trial of ATI-502 for the topical treatment of vitiligo. This trial will evaluate the efficacy of ATI-502 on the repigmentation of facial skin in up to 24 patients with vitiligo and data are expected in the first half of 2019.

          AGA-201 Topical – an ongoing Phase 2 open-label clinical trial of ATI-502 for the topical treatment of androgenetic alopecia (AGA), also known as male/female pattern hair loss. This trial will evaluate the efficacy of ATI-502 on the regrowth of hair in up to 24 patients with AGA and data are expected in the first half of 2019.

    2. Kind of a bummer. A hint of positivity would have gone a long way for a lot of us.
      Thanks for keeping us posted about what they said.

      1. Look on the bright side Champpster…they could’ve said phase 2 AGA trial has been abandoned due to poor initial results! :-)

          1. I wouldn’t say that it’s entirely negative. It’s probably a tricky thing to inject something between the lines that could be interpreted in one way or another and make them liable for all kinds of market manipulation stuff later one for misleading investors. Why risk that? I’d play it safe here – like they did. They didn’t abandon the trial and they are going to publish results in 2019.

    1. 5 – 7 years away minimum at current state of play..What is really annoying is that this was at the same stage 4 years ago!

      There are articles from 2014 where the compound was used in mice to prevent athesclerosis, after being fed a high fat diet.

  12. Does anyone remember if Aclaris showed the amazing results of Areata regrowth of jak during their clinical trial or did they show the amazing cure like results after they complete the trial? Now if Aclaris showed the results of Areata during trial and they now wont show any details of current AGA results then it’s safe to say they don’t have anything spectacular. If jak was showing amazing results they would mention it and it would be on the news like how it was for areata.

    1. One big difference is that AGA is an enormously huge product compared to their other little products and markets. Is there any reason for Aclaris to keep a lid on the results for a company game-changer? I’m just speculating, but a poker face may be warranted.

    2. Good point. I dont specifically recall aclaris releasing any news about it. Just the initial discovery from christiano and then brett king. Nasa rs would be the one with the asnwer to that

  13. I suffer from both AA and AGA ( lucky me) from my experience reducing inflammation promotes growth in the AA regions . I have used a number of treatments off label with good success in the AA affected areas.
    When it comes to AGA , no such luck . I understand the correct dose could be incorrect but you would expect to see a little regrowth.
    If inflammation was the issue with AGA as it clearly is with AA then you would expect to see the permanent hair region effected too, as it is with AA . That donar area is not safe from AA , so then why is it safe from AGA? It does not make logical sense . Inflammation will destroy hair in the donar area thats why I can be never get a Transplant since my AA can flare up at anytime ( lucky me)
    I honestly expect Jaks to be a flop for AGA!

  14. Trump, Berlusconi, Putin and many other world leaders suffer from baldness, some of them would spend a lot of their money to solve this problem, but apparently there is nothing out there… we will stay bald for other 10 years at least.

  15. If I were you I’d wait until they announce their phase 2 results later this year (perhaps even as close as 1-2 months from now), If you’re relying on Shiseido that is. Otherwise Tsuji is next up in 2019 with his trials. In theory, it should be okey since both companies uses the same technique as “fue” – just with endless hair rather than the ones you have limited.

    1. Follica is at least way more professional than Fidia, Rivertown or Histogen. I think they are able to regrow hair and in combination with a HT it should be fine.

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