Keratin Microsphere Gel Regrows Hair in Mice and in In Vitro Human Cells by Targeting Follicles and Boosting Gene Expression

Current Limitations in Hair Loss Treatments

Hair loss, a common issue affecting millions, often finds limited relief with treatments like minoxidil and finasteride, which can have drawbacks such as scalp irritation and sexual side effects, respectively. In this context, a breakthrough by the University of Tsukuba bioengineers is noteworthy.

Innovative Keratin Microsphere Gel Research

Hair Growth With Keratin Microspheres Gel

Credit: Meriem Bejaoui

A gel based on keratin microspheres, developed by bioengineers at the University of Tsukuba, has just demonstrated its efficacy for hair growth in mice. Indeed, this same efficacy has not yet been validated in humans, but these first results, presented in the journal ACS Applied Bio Materials, seem to confirm the ability of the microparticles to penetrate the skin to reach the hair follicles and induce hair growth.

Researchers at the University of Tsukuba have made a significant leap in hair loss treatment with their development of a keratin microsphere gel. This novel approach, detailed in a recent publication in ACS Applied Bio Materials, offers a promising alternative to traditional hair regrowth methods

According to Eureka Alert, the skin’s main role is to guard against external threats, but this protective function also impedes many therapeutic molecules from reaching the follicles to reverse hair loss. Nonetheless, the study showed that some microparticles could penetrate this barrier, transporting these substances to where they are needed.

The study demonstrated that topical application to the skin of mice of a gel composed of water-soluble oxidized keratin (keratin microsphere gel) significantly increases cell proliferation and the expression of genes associated with hair growth in the papillary cells of hair follicles.

In mice, these keratin microspheres stimulate hair development. The hair growth begins on the second day after application and the growth rate accelerates thereafter. The researchers point out that the effect of the new keratin microsphere gel is comparable to that of minoxidil, a known hair growth stimulant.

Genetic analysis of treated skin tissue samples revealed a positive regulation of the expression of genes involved in the regulation of the hair cycle and skin homeostasis. In vitro tests have also confirmed these effects in human tissue samples.

Furthermore Eureka Alert points out that Keratin, a fundamental component of hair and skin, indicates that the use of keratin microsphere gel as a hair growth agent is likely safe and effective, with a low risk of adverse effects.

Implications and Future Potential

The success of the keratin microsphere gel in mice trials is not just a win for hair loss treatment but could also open the way for more efficient drug delivery methods. This innovation could extend beyond hair growth.  In fact, as a result of this breakthrough treating skin-related conditions would become more effective and less invasive.

References

Bejaoui, M., Heah, W. Y., Mizushima, A. K. O., Nakajima, M., Yamagishi, H., Yamamoto, Y., & Isoda, H. (2024). Keratin Microspheres as Promising Tool for Targeting Follicular Growth. ACS Applied Bio Materials. https://doi.org/10.1021/acsabm.3c00956

University of Tsukuba. (2024, February 28). Effect of keratin microsphere gel on hair growth in mice. EurekAlert!. Retrieved from https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/1036061

Note: This article has been updated to correctly attribute Eureka Alert. We apologize for the earlier oversight.

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