It is believed that small molecules play a role in the regeneration of follicles which eventually could be used to stop hair loss and regrow hair.
Are we close to finding a miracle cure for hair loss? 1 in 5 Americans is suffering from some form of hair loss, with men representing a higher percentage of hair loss victims.
In a study published in Science Advances, researchers from North Carolina State University explain that they have identified a microRNA (a small RNA molecule that regulates gene expression) that could promote hair regeneration.
Hair that grows back in 15 days
Hair growth depends on the health of the dermal papilla cells (DP cells), which regulate the growth cycle of the hair follicle. To test hair follicle regeneration, the researchers made dermal papilla cells in 2D and in 3D spheroid cultures and then implanted them in groups of mice.
They then studied the rate of hair growth in mice treated with 2D grown DP cells, 3D spheroid grown DP cells on a keratin scaffold, and finally in mice treated with minoxidil, a common hair loss treatment. In a 20-day study, the mice treated with 3D DP cells recovered 90% of their hair after 15 days.
“The 3D cells in a keratin scaffold gave the best results because the spheroid mimics the microenvironment of the hair and the keratin scaffold acts as an anchor to keep them where they are needed,” said Ke Cheng, co-author of the article.
“We were also interested in how the PD cells regulate the process of follicle growth. So we looked at exosomes, especially exosomal microRNAs in this microenvironment,” says Ke Cheng.
The Key Role of miR-218-5p
Exosomes are small vesicles secreted by cells and play an important role in communication between cells. These vesicles contain microRNAs.
In a second step, the researchers measured the microRNAs of the 3D and 2D PD cells contained in the exosomes. In the exosomes derived from the 3D PD cells, they found miR-218-5p, a microRNA that amplifies the molecular pathway responsible for hair follicle growth. They found that increasing the miR-218-5p promoted hair follicle growth, while inhibiting the miR-218-5p caused a loss of follicular function.
“Three-dimensional cell therapy could be an effective treatment for baldness, but these cells must be cultivated, expanded, preserved, and injected into the area,” said Professor Cheng. According to Cheng, microRNAs “can be used in small-molecule drugs. “So they could possibly produce a cream or lotion that would have a similar effect with far fewer problems.
However, further work is needed on the miR-218-5p microRNA to understand how it can promote hair growth and whether its use is compatible with treatment.