South Korean scientists have developed a biochemical substance that can treat hair loss. The new drug candidate instigates the growth of new hair follicle, a mammalian skin organ that produces hair, while reducing the side effects of existing hair loss drugs.
The research team led by Yonsei University’s professor Choi Kang-yeol discovered that those who suffer from hair loss has a considerable amount of protein called CXXC5 in their scalp tissues. The protein acts as a negative regulator of the Wnt signaling pathway inside of a cell that is linked to hair follicle development and wound healing.
The research team studied on human hair follicle cells to learn more about the function of the protein and found out that the CXXC5 interrupts the hair follicle development and regeneration when it binds with the Dishevelled protein. The finding suggests that the new substance can help hair follicle properly grow and regenerate when not binding to the Dishevelled protein.
Based on this finding, the researchers have developed a biochemical substance, PTD-DBM, that prevents CXXC5 from binding with the Dishevelled protein. When the substance was applied on the bare skin of laboratory mice for 28 days, they saw new hair follicle growth.
When applying the PTD-DBM along with valproic acid (VPA), a chemical substance that activates the Wnt signaling pathway, new hair grew faster. Existing hair loss treatments don’t work for those who already lost hair because they only accelerate the speed of hair growth. They also have the side effects as it contains a substance inhibits testosterone.
The new drug candidate for hair loss has potentials that can address all these problems, according to the research team. Currently, the team is conducting experiments on animals to find out whether the new substance is toxic or not.
Professor Choi Kang-yeol said, “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.”
This study was published in the latest edition of the journal "Journal of Investigative Dermatology" on November 20.