A group of researchers at the University of Southern California (UCLA) in Los Angeles, USA, has developed a new method that stimulates hair growth from stem cells and could lead to the development of drugs against Alopecia associated with hormonal imbalances, stress, aging and chemotherapy.
The research published in the journal Nature Cell Biology, led by Heather Christofk and William Lowry, found that stem cells of the hair follicle - responsible for the cyclical growth of hair throughout life - have a different metabolism than other cells of the skin and can be stimulated. In this way, when your cell cycle is interrupted by different factors, baldness appears.
The follicles process glucose from the bloodstream to produce energy in the form of pyruvate, used by mitochondria for cellular activity, or turn it into another metabolite known as lactate. Based on these observations, the experts attempted to deduce the role of both metabolites in the capillary cycle and thus determine how they influence their growth.
The analysis revealed that by genetically blocking lactate production in mice, this prevented the activation of stem cells in the follicles. On the other hand, if the pyruvate entry into the mitochondria was genetically decreased, the stem cells were forced to produce more lactate, and with that, they caused the birth of new hair faster.
"Prior to this, no one knew that increased or decreased lactate would have an effect on stem cells of the hair follicle," says Lowry on the UCLA portal.
Two hopeful drugs: RCGD423 and UK5099
After the discovery, scientists were able to develop two possible drugs (RCGD423 and UK5099) that were tested in mice and succeeded in stimulating lactate production through different metabolic pathways.
Although they have not been tested in humans and are not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. (FDA), Lowry says this method is "promising" and could help millions of men and women. "I think we have barely begun to understand the critical role that metabolism plays in hair growth," concludes the expert.