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A New Drug May Someday Offer Cure for Baldness
by Jane Meggitt
Don’t rush to your doctor or pharmacist quite yet, but a new drug may offer a cure for baldness. So far, the medication has regrown hair in mice, but unless you’re a rodent, there’s no definite proof it will cause hair to grow back. Human studies are not in the offing for the near future. An important caveat: Previous promising baldness drugs that grew hair in mice either did not work in people or caused serious side effects. This latest study was conducted by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
Lactate Levels and Hair Follicles
Hair stem cells are normally inactive, except during hair growth cycles. The UCLA research team discovered that metabolism of stem cells in hair follicles differs from that of other skin cells. When hair stem cell follicles consume glucose – the simple sugar that is one of the all living organisms most crucial nutrient sources – it is processed and forms pyruvate, a metabolite. The hair stem cells then either send pyruvate to the energy source of the cell – the mitochondria - or change it into lactate, another metabolite. Scientists sought to find out whether lessening the amount of pyruvate going to the mitochondria would force the hair stem cells to make more lactate. If the cells did produce more lactate, would that translate into making more hair?
The Bald Mice Study
Two experimental drugs were used on genetically engineered mice. One set of mice had been developed to not produce lactate, while the other set was developed to increase lactate production. The study found that mice without lactate did not have activated hair stem cells, while those with lots of lactate grew more hair. The two drugs were then applied topically to the skin of the bald mice.
RCGD423 starts a cellular signal that sends information from outside the cell to its nucleus. Once activated, it appears lactate production increases and the hair follicle stem cell does indeed grow hair faster. The other drug, UK5099, keeps pyruvate away from the mitochondria, upping the production of lactate in the hair stem cells and thus increasing the rate of mice hair growth.
The two drugs both have provisional patent status, with the RCGD423 application filed by UCLA’s Technology Development Fund (TDF), on behalf of the University of California’s Board of Regents. A separate provisional patent covers for UK5099 was filed by UCLA/TDF and the Regents, along with the inventors of the drug, Drs. William Logan and Heather Christofk.
If you or someone you know would like more information about hair loss and how to treat it, please feel free to schedule a consultation at Hair Loss Specialists or contact one of our representatives today!