SCUBE3 Signaling Molecule for Hair Growth

I have covered Dr. Maksim Plikus a few times on this blog in the past. I have also discussed Hedgehog signaling and hair growth in detail. Yesterday, a University of California team (led by Dr. Plikus) discovered a critical signaling molecule SCUBE3 that stimulates hair growth.

Update: March 27, 2023

In a new interview with UCI, Dr. Plikus states that:

“SCUBE3 would be microinjected less than a millimeter beneath a person’s skin. It would be a fairly painless process that would have to be repeated periodically to maintain hair growth.”

Update: July 29, 2022

Yet another update just came out (h/t “YoYo”). I like the phrase “digitize the hair“.

Update: July 18, 2022

New video titled: “UC Irvine scientists discover a possible cure for baldness.” Starring Dr. Maksim Plikus (h/t “YoYo”). And yet another one.

Update: July 7, 2022

Dr. William Rassman provided an update on Reddit on July 7:

 SCUBE3 Signaling Molecule Trials via Amplifica
Amplifica is a biotechnology company that was co-founded by Maksim Plikus and Dr. William Rassman. They plan to begin SCUBE3 clinical trials by the end of 2022.

SCUBE3 represents one part of the interconnected hair growth loop that also includes the hedgehog pathway, dermal papilla cells, TGF-β and Wnt5a. This interaction is shown in the below diagram from this latest research.

SCUBE3 Hair Growth
SCUBE3 signaling molecule stimulates hair growth. Source: Development Cell.

July 1, 2022

SCUBE3 Signaling Molecule Stimulates Hair Growth

University of California, Irvine (UCI) led researchers have discovered that a signaling molecule (which they call SCUBE3) potently stimulates hair growth. Most importantly, it may offer a therapeutic treatment for androgenetic alopecia, which accounts for 90-95 percent of hair loss cases in both men and women.

The actual study was published yesterday in Development Cell. The study team included health professionals and academics from UCI, San Diego, China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

“UCI has filed a provisional patent application on the use of SCUBE3 and its related molecular compounds for hair growth stimulation.”

This study discovered the precise mechanism by which the dermal papilla cells (fibroblasts at the bottom of each hair follicle) promote new growth. According to Dr. Plikus:

“We revealed that the SCUBE3 signaling molecule, which dermal papilla cells produce naturally, is the messenger used to ‘tell’ the neighboring hair stem cells to start dividing, which heralds the onset of new hair growth.”

In people with androgenetic alopecia, dermal papilla cells start to malfunction. One of the reasons behind this is a major reduction in the normally abundant signaling and activating molecules. It seems like SCUBE3 protein microinjections are sufficient to induce new hair growth.

However, note that mice were involved in this initial work. The research team microinjected SCUBE3 into mouse skin in which human scalp follicles had been transplanted. This induced new growth in both the dormant human hair follicles and surrounding mouse follicles due to “hyperactivated” dermal papilla cells.

Per co-first author and UCI postdoctoral researcher Christian Guerrero-Juarez, these experiments provide proof that SCUBE3 or derived molecules can be a promising therapeutic for hair loss.

According to Dr. Plikus, there is a strong need for new, effective hair loss medications. Naturally occurring compounds that are used by dermal papilla cells for hair growth “present ideal next-generation” candidates for pattern baldness treatment.

More detailed research on this subject will be conducted in the Plikus Lab and at Amplifica Holdings Group. The latter is a biotechnology company that was co-founded by Plikus and includes Dr. William Rassman on its team. For more on that company, see my post on Amplifica and its hairy moles treatment for baldness.

67 thoughts on “SCUBE3 Signaling Molecule for Hair Growth”

  1. Thanks admin. This tells me again that most of the research is behind closed doors, often for years (see HopeMed, Fukuda, Pelage[?]).

    Just because we don’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Often it’s a good sign when there’s no permanent updates, because there’s nothing to market (yet) and the research teams focus only on the science.

    This sounds incredibly good, just like Olix or Pelage does.

    What do you think admin? Something to keep in mind or better forget about it?

      1. Admin have you heard of Dr. Zarev . He is a Hair Transplant Doctor from Bulgaria. He has been spoke of by Joe Tillman positively and he is known for doing giggasessions of over 10,000 FUE grafts and impeccable work.. effectively a cure!!!!!! Please check him out and share your thoughts. I have watched on YouTube and can’t believe my eyes. Would love your feedback especially on hairline. At this point between Hasson and him we might as well jump on test and get jacked nuke our native hair get a giggasession and then call it a day and never have to worry about medications again !

          1. My bad ,

            I just found it.. Great article by the way.. You know obviously not everyone will have a suitable donor region but for many a giggasessions will provide on the optics essentially, a cure.. Just not sure if I’m splitting hairs here (pun intended) I’m torn between him and Dr. Hasson . I don’t believe Dr. Zarev uses a dissecting microscope to isolate singles not sure what Hasson does.. hairline is extremely important but more so may be the donor areas not looking wiped out.. Any thoughts in who you would choose if you were looking at a mega / giga session?

            1. I trust in Dr. Cole’s praise of Dr. Zarev. Plus Zarev is (perhaps) more experienced at FUE.

              If I ever got a hair transplant, I would ask for a free one from any top tier surgeon in return for documenting it on this blog.

        1. Effectively a cure for a) those that have this much hair on their sides/back of head to spare and b) have 50-80k in the bank (in my area 3500 grafts, once you include surgical fees etc, is around 22k-25k – and yes, I got quotes from 6 different docs). If you want a good doc, you’re going to have to pay.

          I don’t have the hair to spare or I’d have had it done it a long time ago. For anyone with thick sides, a HT is basically a cure (yes costly and might require several sessions but still). There are some great docs out there.

          I always said, if they could just clone our own hair so I (and others with thin sides) had it available, HT is the cure for all.

    1. Wasn’t the WNT molecule or one associated w/ WNT for hair growth discovered 20 years ago, or thereabouts? That was HUGE too, js….

        1. Isn’t it funny that his suspicion (hairy moles!) was probably the right avenue…

          The fact that they already started research in 2013 makes me pessimistic though, 9 years – seriously?

          1. Pilkus has applied for a provisional patent application so you can be sure that towards the end of this year we’ll hear some form of update on when clinical trials could potentially start. And it’s a drug that will be injected rather than hair cloning so it can go through clinical trials and out in the market a lot quicker. And this protein stimulator was recently discovered for its use in hair growth and this is (potential) major news.

              1. I should have been clearer, SCUBE3 has been around for some time, however they only recently published their findings of the relationship between SCUBE3 and hair follicles (June, hence the article).

            1. 26 years old. My hair started falling out when I was 20 years old. The best years of my life were spent stressing this problem. Now I’m digging in the hair on the sides. I was hopeless, I came across this research on the internet, I was so happy because I had given up hope on treatments, hair cloning and such.

              I think it’s all a story. but if this treatment works, it will be very nice like prp, I hope it will be soon, the price will be affordable, all those who have baldness problems will get rid of this trouble don’t know English well, I translated it with a translation program, I apologize for the mistakes.

  2. Gimme hope, I’d really like to know how this is something to get excited about when it wont be out before 15 years, if not at all… I’ll be ex items if you tell me something willed be out before 2026.

      1. Everybody knows that when something new is discovered it takes minimum 10 years to get out…. No crystall ball needed. Believe me i
        hope i am wrong. As a woman, this hairloss is a real nightmare for me, i think about it 90 percent of the time.

        Do any of you know whether spironolactone or finasteride is more potent for andrognic alopecia and why ?

        1. Believe me, as a man, this problem destroys a person psychologically. My hair has been falling out since I was 20. I am now bald at 26. I have sacrificed the best years of my life because of this problem. The girl I love even left me because of this.

  3. About something like this I would have been super excited 10 years ago, now I don’t know what to think about it :(
    I like the idea that it is a molecule, in any case in terms of time it is always more promising than cloning.

  4. Hopefullnot is right.

    Say they need 3 years to finish studies, then 7 years of trials, its easily a decade away from being on our heads.

  5. Pre-Clinical results from Epibiotech are out (Google Translate):

    “Epibiotech CEO Sung Jong-hyeok said that through the presentation of the results of the non-clinical test conducted by the company, it was confirmed that the number of hairs increased by 40% and the hair thickness by 30% after 1 month after transplantation of human dermal papilla cells in pig skin. He also explained that the non-clinical toxicity test of EPI-001, a dermal papilla cell pipeline, was completed in June, and that it will apply for an IND in the second half of the year and enter the phase 1 clinical trial in 2023.”

      1. Yes, unusual – but definitely better.

        There’s no details out so it’s hard to judge. But 40 % more hair and 30 % more density sounds like something I would expect from a DP-therapy.

        Not a full cure, but an effective addition. Trials delayed once again, but okay that’s business as usual. Very much looking forward to the trial.

  6. This is an absolute weapon of a find admin!

    Novel discovery with massive therapeutic potential. We have seen multiple WNT activators fail so I am interested to see how they can angle this problem.

    1. Would this be safe (and effective) to take in this form? If not I think it’s a relatively dangerous post since desperate people do desperate things.

      Ben, I’m not saying this was posted with ill intent, far from it. I’ve followed this site for a long time now, so know your contributions are invaluable.

      If it is safe then I’ll post photos of my long flowing locks in due course.

    2. Ben,

      Be careful because we don’t know the pharmaceutics behind this molecule. For example, how do you know if you apply it topically that it will even penetrate the eidermal barrier or the root hair sheath? Systemic administration will have deadly outcomes. That’s why maksum plikus is going for a downstream pathway.

  7. Hey admin, how would this potential treatment effect those who’ve had hair transplants? Will new hair be able to grow in areas that were transplanted?

  8. Clinical trials within the year? Surely he is talking about pre-clinical animal models, and not human trials.

    This approach sounds so alluring to me, something completely new. It’s amazing how much we still don’t know about human biology, the signaling pathways are very mysterious and hold a lot of potential – new insight is gained by the day.

  9. I’m not gonna get my hopes up. I’m sure it’ll be 10 years. But it is good to see so many different pathways that are being tried to cure hair loss. One of these pathways will eventually work.

  10. Baldness has been cured in mice at least 10 times now! That said, one of these breakthroughs will be the one :-) …Still hoping for the best. Appreciated seeing this article.

  11. I’m curious about the SCUBE3 molecule being naturally occurring. Does this mean it can be synthesized by anyone, without a patent? and if so, would it be far out to imagine some folks might try to do some of their own research and testing?

    1. According to Reddit this is happening already by some adventurous folks.

      Further above I posted a link where you can buy a ‚polyclonal SCUBE3-antibody‘. But I don’t know if you need an antibody or the actual molecule (rather the latter). And there’s loads of other questions (dosing, delivery).

      That said, please don’t try any self-experiments, I would never.

  12. Something tells me that this SCUBE3 molecule will be the new hair loss cure, it was about time, I’m 50 now …Now or never

    1. I have a similar feeling about it, the research is astonishing and the possible treatment surprisingly simple.

      Plus I heard that Plikus is considered a genius in his fields AND the company as a business vehicle (Amplifica) is already there.

      But we had similar constellations in the past which failed terribly.

      1. Also this isn’t as complicated and won’t need to go through as many trials compared to hair cloning which is a huge plus too.

          1. That I don’t know hopefully 3/4 years away? SCUBE3 is something we all have/had so the fact that it is a natural product in our body is a huge plus. However, the only thing I’m concerned about is that can over-activation of the follicles lead to potential cancer? I have no knowledge about this, just me guessing.

    1. No worries, they are all great videos. Interesting that he mentions the advances in computer technology enabling more rapid research progress. Without even needing mice for some of the work.

  13. So how come they can transplant human hair to mice but not transplant hair from one person to another ? Hmmm They saying in that article that they transplanted human hair to mice and did trials.

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