Scientists Discover Hair Growth Regulator

by Kevin Rands | May 12, 2016 9:56 pm

Hair growth may soon be under control. Max- Planck Immunology Institute – Scientists have discovered the genetic basis of hair formation and are paving the way for new preparations for treating unwanted hair growth.

Researchers have succeeded in identifying the method of operation of an important mechanism for hair formation.

This protein switch regulates the activity of numerous genes, which carry the information of the protein-structure of the hair, the Keratin. Keratin is a mechanically resistant protein material that gives hair its basic structure and density.

After identifying the existence of the protein switches, they began research on figuring out exactly how they work. This research has now led to new ways for slowing down unwanted hair growth.

The question of how the immune system functions on a molecular level is what the scientists working with Professor Thomas Boehm focused on. The discovery of the protein switch for hair formation was accidental. Its origins came out of an investigation of a genetic defect in mice which are affected by a hereditary immune weakness that causes hair loss.

“We asked ourselves at that time, which gene is actually defective in these naked mice, because this gene must be responsible for growing the hair as well”, says Boehm.

Hair grows from hair follicles in cycles of growth and resting phases. At the end of each cycle hair is lost and is replaced by a new hair in the next cycle. The controlling of this cycle is influenced by many factors. Until now, many different treatments have been, and are still used. In the newest treatments[1], people try to cure hair loss by influencing the hormones[2] in the body, but this often leads to side effects[3].

Experiments by the Freiburger researchers show that all this is not necessary when the protein switch is stimulated. Instead of an oral drug only a local topical treatment of the hair follicle with a cream or a special shampoo is required. This clearly reduces possible side effects. The Freiburger scientists have made a considerable step forward with their research of hair growth.

It’s important to note that while this study is mostly related to regulating unwanted hair growth, it has added to an understanding of how the hair works that we did not previously have. On this level, this is an important discovery for men and women and children suffering hair loss.

With its goals of regulating the hair growth cycle[4] a clear success, researchers at the Max-Planck institute are now thinking about establishing their own company. They also believe that this success can lead to many unexpected applications for other medical problems in humans.

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