Male pattern baldness and female pattern hair loss are the two most common and genetic forms of hair loss globally. These conditions will affect roughly 50% of men by the time they are 50, and approximately 50% of women by the time they are aged 65 (1).
As we know, current hair loss medications and supplements available on the market can’t stop hair loss for those who are in the late stages. These treatments are also limited by low effectiveness and unwanted side effects, which is a big concern since most of them consist of DHT inhibitors.
this protein functions to interrupt the growth of hair
Recently, a group of scientists from Yonsei University, in South Korea, discovered a new way to treat patients with hair loss. According to their research, a new substance could help grow new hair follicles while reducing the side effects from existing medications for hair loss.
In a study by this research team published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, the researchers discovered a protein called CXXC5 in human scalp tissue. CXXC5 is localized inside a cell. It interacts with a protein named Dishevelled and acts as a negative regulator of the cell pathway (Wnt/β-catenin signaling inside of a cell.) That is to say, this protein functions to interrupt the growth of hair, prevents healing of wounds, and stops the regeneration of hair when it binds to Dishevelled.
Valproic acid activates the cell pathway linked to the development of hair follicles
Based on the study findings, they developed a new biochemical agent called PTD-DBM, a peptide and a short chain of amino acid. This chemical substance helps prevent CXXC5 from linking to the protein Dishevelled, resulting in re-growing hair much faster and healing damaged tissues. When applying this substance to the skin of lab mice for 28 days, it showed some improvement in hair growth (2).
Then when they added to this substance a Valproic acid, which is used to treat patients with seizures, schizophrenia, bipolar and migraines, they found that the new hair grew more quickly. One explanation for this is that Valproic acid activates the cell pathway linked to the development of hair follicles (3). On the contrary, CXXC5 inhibits the cell pathway, preventing the human hair from growing back.
Professor Choi Kang-yeol in the Yonsei University and his colleagues are now in the next stages of studying to find out how safe this combination between PTD-DBM and Valproic acid is on human skin and how well this combination can help heal the damaged skin tissues (2). They are very excited about this new agent for curing hair loss.
References and further reading
- Center TB. Could Targeting CXXC5 Protein Cure Baldness and Regrow Hair? 2018 [cited 2018 20 June]. Available from: https://www.belgraviacentre.com/blog/could-targeting-cxxc5-protein-cure-baldness-and-regrow-hair/.
- Lee SH, Seo SH, Lee DH, Pi LQ, Lee WS, Choi KY. Targeting of CXXC5 by a Competing Peptide Stimulates Hair Regrowth and Wound-Induced Hair Neogenesis. The Journal of investigative dermatology. 2017;137(11):2260-9.
- Lee SH, Yoon J, Shin SH, Zahoor M, Kim HJ, Park PJ, et al. Valproic acid induces hair regeneration in murine model and activates alkaline phosphatase activity in human dermal papilla cells. PloS one. 2012;7(4):e34152.