Moles, those small spots on our skin that sometimes sprout hair, may hold the key to treating age-related hair loss, according to new research. Scientists from the University of California, Irvine, have discovered that a molecule called osteopontin, previously not associated with hair growth, is highly active in hairy mole skin. They believe that injecting osteopontin into the scalp could reactivate dormant hair follicles, leading to the regrowth of hair in balding individuals.
The researchers suggest that osteopontin could be administered through a nearly painless procedure similar to Botox injections. They are excited about the potential of this approach and plan to conduct clinical trials on humans starting in the summer to test its effectiveness. Previous experiments on mice have shown promising results.
Maksim Plikus, a hair scientist involved in the study, explains that he has always been fascinated by how some moles have hair stem cells that go into overdrive, resulting in long strands of hair. He believes that injecting osteopontin around dormant follicles could reactivate the stem cells and stimulate hair growth. Osteopontin is produced abundantly by senescent cells, which are known for their negative effects on aging bodies but, in this case, may play a positive role in encouraging hair growth.
Plikus emphasizes that the treatment would not result in the entire scalp turning into one large mole. The features of the hair, such as its natural color and texture, should be preserved because those characteristics are encoded within the follicle. The aim is to reawaken the follicles and promote hair growth reminiscent of a person’s younger years.
Hair loss treatments have been a challenging field for scientists, with limited success thus far. Currently, only two widely used medications, Rogaine and Propecia, have been proven effective for hair loss. Plikus believes that hair growth is a complex process, and finding a successful treatment has been elusive.
A biotech company called Amplifica, co-founded by Plikus, plans to trial their hair loss treatment inspired by moles in the coming weeks. While specific details about the treatment have not been disclosed, it is likely to involve a combination of osteopontin and other newly discovered hair-growing proteins. The therapy would be applied through microneedling of the hair follicles in the scalp, similar to Botox injections. The potential treatment offers hope for those seeking effective solutions for age-related hair loss.
The upcoming clinical trials by Amplifica are generating significant interest within the scientific community and the hair loss industry. Researchers and experts in the field see the potential of harnessing the natural hair-growing properties of osteopontin and other proteins to revolutionize the treatment of hair loss.
One of the advantages of this approach is that it utilizes molecules already present in the body, eliminating the need to develop entirely new compounds. Nature, as Maksim Plikus mentioned, may hold the key to solving the complex puzzle of hair growth. By tapping into the body’s own mechanisms and signaling pathways, the hope is to trigger a rejuvenation of dormant hair follicles and stimulate their growth.
If the clinical trials prove successful, the mole-inspired hair loss treatment could offer a non-invasive and relatively simple solution for individuals experiencing hair loss. The microneedling technique allows for precise delivery of the therapeutic molecules directly to the scalp, targeting the hair follicles where they are needed.
However, researchers also acknowledge that hair growth is a multifaceted process influenced by various genetic, hormonal, and environmental factors. While the osteopontin-based treatment shows promise, it may not be a universal solution for all types of hair loss. Different forms of hair loss, such as pattern baldness or alopecia areata, may require tailored approaches based on their underlying causes.
Nonetheless, the discovery of the hair-growing potential of osteopontin and the ongoing development of the mole-inspired treatment mark important advancements in the field of hair restoration. It offers a glimpse of hope for millions of individuals struggling with hair loss, providing a potential alternative or complement to existing treatments like Rogaine and Propecia.
As further research unfolds and clinical trials progress, scientists anticipate a better understanding of the complex mechanisms governing hair growth. This knowledge may open doors to even more innovative treatments and interventions for various types of hair loss, potentially transforming the lives of those affected by this common concern.