- New research has identified molecules that lead to hair growth in moles.
- These molecules cause the formation of long and thick hairs.
- The discovery could lead to a cure for baldness, but more clinical trials are needed.
Hair loss is a common problem, with baldness affecting an estimated 80 million people in the United States. Despite its frequency, there is still no cure for baldness. Now researchers think they may have found one.
A new study published in the journal Nature analyzed mouse genetic models of nevi (aka moles) and found that two molecules, osteopontin and CD44, are responsible for the hair growth that can occur inside moles. These moles tend to have robust growth of long, thick hairs, the scientists pointed out.
Osteopontin “causes normally dormant, diminutive hair follicles to activate their stem cells for robust growth of long, thick hair,” study co-author Maksim Plikus, Ph.D., professor of biology of the development and cellular at the University of California, Irvine, said in a statement. “Senescent cells (which make up moles) are generally thought to be detrimental to regeneration and are believed to drive the aging process as they accumulate in tissues throughout the body, but our research clearly shows that cellular senescence has a positive side,” he said. adds.
The researchers also ran mouse models where osteopontin or CD44 was removed from the genes and found that moles had significantly slower hair growth. (The also confirmed the impact of osteopontin on hair growth by analyzing samples of hairy moles taken from people.)
The researchers also suggested in the study that osteopontin could be injected into the scalp of people suffering from hair loss to wake up hair follicles that have become dormant.
The researchers concluded in the study that their findings identify senescent cells as “an attractive therapeutic target in regenerative disorders.”
“Our decision to study this phenomenon stems from an intriguing observation in human hairy nevi, where we noticed an abundance of excessive hair growth emerging from hyperpigmented skin,” says study lead author Xiaojie Wang. , Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Irvine. “We sought to understand why hair growth tends to be more pronounced in darker skin types and which specific genes play a role in regulating this process.”
Clearly, much more needs to be done to bridge the gap between discovering that molecules in hairy moles help grow long, thick hair and creating a cure for baldness, but dermatologists say the first discoveries are promising.
What do dermatologists think about the potential cure for baldness?
Dermatologists say the latest findings are promising. “Regenerative medicine is the wave of the future,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. “Using stem cells and growth factors to stimulate our skin’s natural activity has already been shown to fight the signs of aging.”
Thinning hair is a “significant concern for millions of Americans,” Dr. Zeichner points out. “While we have treatments that can help, none has yet proven to be the magic bullet,” he says. “The discovery that osteopontin induces hair growth could be a major breakthrough for those suffering from thinning hair.”
Gary Goldenberg, MD, a board-certified dermatologist practicing in New York City, agrees. “Hair follicles are one of the few cells in the body that contain stem cells. Activating follicular stem cells could potentially help restore hair and increase the number of follicles in the scalp,” he explains. 2. “In fact, some of the current modalities – injections of platelet-rich plasma, stem cells or exosomes – attempt to activate and activate follicular stem cells in order to grow new follicles.”
Dr Goldenberg says the findings are “all very exciting and could give hair loss patients a real boost”.
“I find this new development regarding the role of osteopontin in hair growth quite intriguing,” says Ife J. Rodney, MD, founding director of Eternal Dermatology Aesthetics and professor of dermatology at Howard University and the Institute. George Washington University. “Until now, osteopontin has not been recognized as a molecule associated with hair growth, so this study opens up new possibilities for potential hair loss treatments.”
Although the findings are early, Dr Rodney says they have big implications. “The fact that osteopontin, when injected or overexpressed, can induce robust hair growth in mice is promising,” she says. “This suggests that manipulating the levels of this molecule in the scalp could potentially stimulate dormant hair follicles and promote hair regrowth in people with hair loss.”
But Dr. Zeichner says there’s a lot to be done to see if it’s a good treatment option for baldness. “The next step will be to see how well it works in a clinical setting, where it’s actually used on patients’ scalps,” he says. “It’s always exciting to learn about the latest innovations, but there’s a difference between what works in the test tube and what actually works in humans.”
Dr Zeichner says he is “cautiously optimistic” about whether this will lead to a cure for baldness.
Wang says the research team plans to continue studying osteopontin and its impact on baldness.
What causes hair loss?
There are several causes of hair loss. However, the most common form is hereditary hair loss, called androgenic alopecia. Hereditary hair loss is inherited and causes hair follicles — from which hair grows — to shrink and hair growth to eventually stop, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).
This usually manifests as an overall thinning or widening part in women and a receding hairline or a bald spot on the top of the head in men.
Other causes of hair loss include aging, alopecia areata (a disease that develops when the body’s immune system attacks hair follicles), cancer treatment, childbirth, and hairstyles that pull on your leather. scalp, according to the AAD.
What treatments are currently available for hair loss?
There is no cure for baldness, but there are treatments available. These can include over-the-counter options like minoxidil (Rogaine), red light therapy capsules, and vitamin supplements, Dr. Zeichner says.
“I recommend the Revian Red Cap, which emits a dual wavelength of red and orange light to enhance nitric oxide production and improve the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to hair follicles,” says Dr. Zeichner. “Supplements, like Nutrafol and Viviscal, have become leaders in the vitamin category, with significant clinical data supporting their use.”
You can also see your dermatologist for in-office procedures, including platelet-rich plasma therapy. “In this procedure, your own blood is drawn and processed, isolating growth factors that are injected into sparse hair follicles,” says Dr. Zeichner. “You can think of it as fertilizer for your hair follicles.”
Prescription medications like oral finasteride and oral minoxidil “are commonly used and effective,” says Dr. Zeichner.
If you’re suffering from hair loss and it’s bothering you, Dr. Goldenberg says it’s important to see a dermatologist. ” Do not wait. See your dermatologist right away,” he says. “Many of today’s treatments can slow and even stop hair loss. But it’s much harder to regrow hair once it’s gone.
Korin Miller is a freelance writer specializing in general wellness, health and sex, and lifestyle trends, with work appearing in Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Self, Glamour, and more. She has a master’s degree from American University, lives near the beach, and hopes to one day own a teacup pig and a taco truck.