A receding hairline is a sensitive subject for many men, despite actors such as Bruce Willis making a shiny head look completely badass.
Now a new scientific breakthrough could mean holding onto your luscious locks for many years to come. No need to chuck that comb and hairspray in the garbage just yet.
A semi-miraculous biochemical substance which stimulates fresh hair follicle growth has been brewed up by South Korean scientists, thanks to funding from The Science Ministry.
Previously, hair loss treatments have been fairly restricted in what they can achieve; either slowing down hair loss or speeding up growth. This new breakthrough could well lead to some exciting, regenerative treatments…
A protein known as CXXC-type zinc finger protein 5 was found which binds to the dishevelled protein. This disrupted the Wnt signalling pathway, which is known to control hair follicle development, regeneration and wound healing.
Drawing from this discovery, the team developed a biochemical substance, known as PTD-DBM. This substance is capable of stopping CXXC from forming a bond with the Dishevelled protein.
When tested on lab mice over a 28-day period, this substance was noted to instigate new follicle growth and regeneration.
Furthermore, when applied to the mice alongside valproic acid (VPA), new hair was found to grow at a faster rate.
Professor Kang-Yell Choi of Yonsei University, who led the Seoul-based research team, has made the following comment:
We have found a protein that controls the hair growth and developed a new substance that promotes hair regeneration by controlling the function of the protein.
We expect that the newly developed substance will contribute to the development of a drug that not only treats hair loss but also regenerate damaged skin tissues.
Many current hair loss treatments – which include lotions, transplants and tablets – can have some distressing hormonal side-effects due to testosterone inhibiting substances, which can include impotence and ejaculation problems. Other nasty effects include dizziness and swelling.
Such treatments are also not suitable for those who have already suffered from hair loss, as they are only able to speed up existing follicle hair growth.
Going forward, the research team will conduct tests to establish whether or not there are any toxic aspects to PTD-DBM. Could this innovative new concept be the future alternative to the comb-over/shave-it-all-off dilemma?
This study follows another balding breakthrough, where researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) found out how increasing the production of lactate genetically accelerates stem cells within dormant hair follicles, encouraging them to grow once more.
According to first author of the study, predoctaral trainee Aimee Flores:
Through this study, we gained a lot of interesting insight into new ways to activate stem cells.
The idea of using drugs to stimulate hair growth through hair follicle stem cells is very promising given how many millions of people, both men and women, deal with hair loss.
I think we’ve only just begun to understand the critical role metabolism plays in hair growth and stem cells in general;
I’m looking forward to the potential application of these new findings for hair loss and beyond.
It really is a brave – and not quite so bald – new world.