Do moles on our bodies hold the key to curing baldness?


Do moles on our bodies hold the key to curing baldness? They contain protein that causes ‘potent hair growth’, study finds

Hairy moles on our bodies could be the key to curing baldness, a study suggests.

They contain a protein that acts as a ‘potent activator of hair growth’, according to researchers.

Scientists from the University of California, Irvine, used the protein to stimulate ‘robust growth of long and thick hairs’ in mice and human skin grafts.

They say the molecule – known as osteopontin – could be harnessed to reverse hair loss on the scalp in future.

A new study out of the University of California, Irvine, found that the protein osteopontin, which is found in hairy moles, stimulated hair growth. This could present a potential treatment for hair loss

A new study out of the University of California, Irvine, found that the protein osteopontin, which is found in hairy moles, stimulated hair growth. This could present a potential treatment for hair loss

Osteopontin has several functions, including wound healing and tissue rebuilding, but it has not been well recognized for its role in hair growth. 

If the treatment is successful, it could fill a gap in hair loss medications. Only a handful are approved for androgenetic alopecia, which affects up to half of US adults, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved two medications for the condition: Rogaine (minoxidil) and Propecia (finasteride).

The team is preparing for human clinical trials this summer. These treatments will likely involve injecting osteopontin and other hair-growth proteins into the scalp with microneedles, similar to those used in Botox.  

Their latest research, published in the journal Nature, tested if osteopontin caused hair growth in mice and human skin samples.

The team, based out of University of California, Irvine, used a mouse model that had the same genetic factors that cause moles to form in human skin. 

They then tracked hair growth in mole skin versus skin without moles. 

The researchers found excessive hair growth in the moles with shorter breaks in growth cycles. 

‘We found that senescent pigment cells produce large quantities of a specific signaling molecule called osteopontin, which causes normally dormant and diminutive hair follicles to activate their stem cells for robust growth of long and thick hairs,’ lead corresponding author Dr Maksim Plikus said in a news release

The human body is covered in more than five million hair follicles, but only 10 percent are found on the scalp. 

Most of them are so short that they’re practically invisible. Some of them are easier to see when a mole appears on the skin, and in many cases, those moles sprout long, thick hair. 

‘Our interpretation was that whatever molecules are in that mole must be very potent activators of hair growth,’ Dr Plikus said. ‘Our goal became to find the biology behind the difference between normal skin and mole skin.’

The San Diego startup Amplifica, of which Dr Plikus is the co-founder, is now in the process of turning osteopontin into a treatment for androgenetic alopecia, a hereditary form of hair loss in men and women. 

‘Nature essentially performed the most important experiment for us already: In millions of people, there are hairy moles that have increased osteopontin,’ Dr Plikus told Fierce Biotech.

‘I see what we did as reverse-engineering nature’s experiment, and for this reason, I’m pretty excited that osteopontin really could be relevant to hair loss therapy.’



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