An international group of researchers has developed an injectable treatment that could stimulate hair growth and thus fight against baldness.
- Currently, finasteride and minoxidil are the two drugs that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat androgenetic alopecia.
- The University of California at Irvine has filed a provisional patent application on the use of the molecule “SCUBE3” and its molecular compounds for the stimulation of hair growth.
Androgenetic alopecia, more commonly known as “baldness”, is a common form of hair loss that affects both men and women. However, the male sex suffers more. Several genetic and hormonal factors are associated with this baldness.
“SCUBE3”, the molecule promoting hair regrowth
Recently, scientists, led by the University of California at Irvine (UCI), identified a signaling molecule, called “SCUBE3”, which stimulates hair growth. According to them, it could constitute a gene treatment (consisting of introducing genetic material into cells) against androgenetic alopecia. To reach this discovery, they carried out a study published in the journal Developmental Cell.
In this research, the authors have, more specifically, succeeded in determining the mechanism by which the cells of the dermal papilla (fibroblasts specialized in signaling which are located at the bottom of each hair follicle) promote hair regrowth.
“At different times in the hair follicle’s life cycle, the same dermal papilla cells can send signals that either keep the follicles dormant or trigger new hair growth,” said Maksim Plikus, author of the study, in a statement. He recalled that in patients suffering from androgenetic alopecia, the cells of the dermal papilla do not function properly, which decreases the normally abundant activating molecules.
Research on mice
As part of this work, the team had developed a mouse model with hyperactivated dermal papillary cells and excessive hair growth. They managed to identify the “SCUBE3” molecule and then microinjected it into the skin of mice into which human scalp follicles had been transplanted. According to the results, overactivation of the signaling molecule significantly accelerated hair growth and induced follicle multiplication in mice.
“These experiments provide evidence that ‘SCUBE3’ or derivative molecules may be a promising therapy for hair loss”, said Christian Guerrero-Juarez, author of the research. Now, scientists plan to conduct further research to confirm that the signaling molecule does indeed activate hair growth in human follicles.