Move over, Rogaine; the pharmacies of the future will carry hair regrowth treatments that contain microRNAs from hair follicle exosomes!
There are creams, supplements, lasers and even surgery, but people struggling with hair loss still don’t have a convenient and effective treatment to help them restore their luscious locks. New treatments could involve injecting dermal papilla (DP) cells, which are responsible for pushing hair follicles into the growth phase, but they only seem to work when the cells are cultured as 3D spheroids first (instead of on a two-dimensional plate). Thankfully, new research from the lab of Ke Cheng (North Carolina State University, NC) has begun to brush through this scientific tangle using exosomes.
Instead of tearing their hair out, the talented team injected DP-spheroids and keratin scaffolds under the skin of C57BL/6 mice, which causes hair follicles to enter the active growth phase (when looking at immunofluorescent markers including β-Catenin), and hair to grow faster than skin treated with minoxidil (the active ingredient in Rogaine).
In fact, their DP treatment works so well that it causes hair to regrow on the adjacent, untreated patch of skin! To get to the root cause, the savvy scientists examined the secretome of DP-spheroid cells with a fine-toothed comb and found:
- The exosomes of DP-spheroid cells contain different miRNAs than those secreted by DP cells grown in 2D culture, including 10 times more miR-218-5p
- Subcutaneous injection of DP-spheroid exosomes is enough to promote hair regrowth and increase β-Catenin expression
- Injections of miR-218-5p mimics also increases hair re-growth, while an inhibitor prevents it
As senior author Ke Cheng states, “Cell therapy with the 3D cells could be an effective treatment for baldness, but you have to grow, expand, preserve and inject those cells into the area. MiRNAs, on the other hand, can be utilized in small molecule-based drugs. So potentially you could create a cream or lotion that has a similar effect with many fewer problems.”
We’re looking forward to more hair-raising results from these researchers!
Let your hair down with the original article in Science Advances, July 2020.