Softening Stiff Hair Follicle Stem Cells to Regrow Hair

Update: July 12, 2024

In a pleasant surprise, we have an update on miR-205 for hair growth. Apparently, human clinical trials are set to commence “immediately” and “straight way” according to Trinity professor Luke O’Neill. It seems like the trials may test tablets as well as a cream or topical ointment.

June 6, 2023

MicroRNA-205 (miR-205) Promotes Hair Regeneration

Last month, an interesting new study was published in PNAS that was titled “MicroRNA-205 (miR-205) promotes hair regeneration by modulating mechanical properties of hair follicle stem cells”.

It seems like hair follicle stem cells become stiff with age, just like the rest of your body. MicroRNA (miRNA) can reverse the stiffness and regrow hair, at least in mice. Make sure to also read my past detailed post on MicroRNA and hair growth.

Softening Stiff Hair Follicles with MicroRNA.
Softening stiff hair follicle stem cells with microRNA (miR-205) regrows hair. Source: PNAS.

Softening Stiff Hair Follicle Stem Cells Regrows Hair

This latest study was led by scientists from Northwestern University School of Medicine (US), with significant contribution from Singapore’s A*Star) too. Neuroscience News has a succinct summary on the findings (h/t “curious”). In essence:

  1. Hair follicle stem cells become stiff and hardened with age, thus hindering hair growth.
  2. Northwestern scientists have discovered a way to soften these stem cells by increasing the production of miR-205. This in turn promotes hair regrowth in mice.
  3. Future experiments will investigate if humans see similar hair growth results after the topical application of miR-205 on scalp hair. The delivery will be done by nanoparticles.

MicroRNA-205 and Hair Regrowth

When the researchers genetically manipulated hair stem cells to produce more of a “tiny RNA” termed miR-205, it promoted hair regrowth in both young and old mice. It did this via mild and reversible downregulation of many genes. This in turn relaxed the hardened cells and promoted cell cycle reentry and hair regeneration.

Moreover, per a quote from the corresponding author Rui Yi:

“These are not new stem cells being generated. We are stimulating the existing stem cells to grow hair. A lot of times we still have stem cells, but they may not be able to generate the hair.”

Interestingly, when people’s arteries get stiff with age, they get high blood pressure. Anti-hypertensive medications (such as oral Minoxidil) enable the relaxation of blood vessels. Topical Minoxidil also causes vasodilation (i.e., the widening of blood vessels).

17 thoughts on “Softening Stiff Hair Follicle Stem Cells to Regrow Hair”

  1. The cure is minoxidil, the issue is how to deliver it to the follicles effectively. Note that Follica website is not showing any on their page.

    1. How is minoxidil a “cure” ? It is only a treatment…
      If your follicle has not produced hair in 20 years minix won’t do a thing

  2. Interesting article, but in regards to mice, you could sprinkle curry powder onto the head of a mouse and it would still sprout hair like Elvis.

  3. Seconded on the Follica. Missing from Puretech website too. Would confirm what most thought and it’s bitten the dust.

  4. So weird RE: Follica, with their poster presentation last year the treatment looked like it delivered solid results and was gearing up to launch. Seemingly solid science and a strong team, what happened? Poor Ph3 results perhaps? I wonder how much money was invested into them and why it took so long for them to reach this point?

    1. Unfortunately does seem as though Follica is dead, Jason Bhardwaj’s LinkedIn page states he was CEO until Apr23 :(.

      I suppose they don’t technically owe anyone anything, but a courtesy of informing the public of the wind down after so many years hyping the product would be nice.

      1. Follica also purged their website rather recently. There is almost nothing there but the logo. So many false promises….

        1. What you all missed was the Puretech 2022 Annual Report and Accounts (2023-04-28), stating that Puretech decided to “hibernate the Follica Founded Entity in the 2023 postperiod.”

          Founded Entries
          ^3 This figure represents the stage of development for each Founded Entity’s most advanced therapeutic candidate. Founded Entities represent companies founded
          by PureTech in which PureTech maintains ownership of an equity interest and, in certain cases, is eligible to receive sublicense income and royalties on product sales.
          Relevant ownership interests for Vedanta, Sonde and Entrega were calculated on a partially diluted basis (as opposed to a voting basis) as of December 31, 2022,
          including outstanding shares, options and warrants, but excluding unallocated shares authorized to be issued pursuant to equity incentive plans. Gelesis, Vor Bio, Akili and Karuna ownerships were calculated on a beneficial ownership basis in accordance with SEC rules as of March 24, 2023, March 17, 2023, March 3, 2023, and March 27, 2023, respectively. With an increased focus on resource allocation towards our Wholly Owned Programs, we decided to hibernate the Follica Founded Entity in the 2023 postperiod. We may choose to advance this program at a later date or with partners.

          1. This is bad. If the treatment has 44% hair regrowth on average, blowing every other known treatment out of the water, why would they hibernate? This is a billion dollar + a year revenue generator. They did this because there are extreme doubts about it, or some long term side effects came out that made them worry about the risk and they decided to hold off, why else would they hold off…. either way something is definitely wrong with the treatment that made it not worth pursuing. The potential is better than most if not all of the others in their portfolio (the anti anxiety/depression drug might be an exception to that). They had a potential blockbuster here, and they decide to hibernate it…lolololol

  5. So it seems we are down to the following for now?

    Belgravia Center
    Stemcell Technologies

      1. I don’t think my balded head will be cured with whatever they produced I am thinking about donating my baldness to third world countries to use for new Airport I am not goal keeping for all that share Holder’s .

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