It is the fear of many men as they age: losing their hair. Androgenetic alopecia, also known as baldness, is linked to genetic and hormonal factors and can be controlled with various treatments such as Minoxidil and Finasteride. In ACS Nano, Chinese researchers presented an invention that could revolutionize baldness treatment: a patch with micro-needles.
Understanding the causes
The researchers’ idea was to find a solution based on the causes of baldness to act on the consequences, namely hair loss. Hair loss is permanent because there are not enough blood vessels around the follicles to deliver nutrients, cytokines, and other important molecules. In addition, a buildup of reactive oxygen molecules in the scalp can trigger the premature death of cells that causes new hair to grow. In previous work, researchers have found that nanoparticles containing the metal cerium can mimic enzymes that remove these reactive oxygen molecules, thereby reducing oxidative stress.
The researchers worked on a way to deliver these nanoparticles since they can’t penetrate the outer layer of the skin. First, they were wrapped in a biodegradable compound and then embedded in a patch with soluble micro-needles. To test the effectiveness of the process, the researchers conducted an experiment on male mice whose baldness had been caused by a hair removal cream. Both the patches that had the microneedles and the control patches were able to generate new blood vessels around the hair follicles, but it was the microneedle patches that resulted in faster regrowth, with a higher concentration of substances that were only present when new hair developed. The research team also found less oxidative stress in the skin of these mice.
A promising strategy
Finally, the patches achieved a similar density, diameter, and concentration of hair as a cream-based treatment. However, they can be used less frequently, but with the same effectiveness. For the researchers, they are a promising strategy to address baldness.
Most treatments for hair loss have to be used for life and it sounds like this news strategy is no different as the patches will still have to be replaced periodically. Maybe if the study leads to a treatment where only one patch per week is used then it would be interesting. The cost of this treatment will have to be reasonable otherwise why mess with minoxidil a treatment that works reasonably well for most people.