A new study carried out by researchers from Helsinki and Cologne, has indicated that hair loss could be preventable. The team discovered a mechanism which could prevent hair loss.
The results, published within the Cell Metabolism journal, provide hope for a future cure. Here, we’ll look at this latest study and what this means for hair loss patients.
Understanding the latest study
The international study involved conducting experiments on mice. It discovered that if hair follicles switched their metabolic state, it could prolong their lifespan. The protein Rictor was found to be responsible for the metabolic process, identifying it as a potential solution for human hair loss.
A genetic mouse model was created to assess the way the Rictor protein functioned. In mice which lacked the protein, hair follicle regeneration was significantly delayed. Older mice with a Rictor deficiency showed a reduction in stem cell, resulting in hair loss.
Hair loss triggered by reduced metabolic flexibility
When new hair is created, the stem cells go back to their quiescent state. The researchers discovered that this requires a change in the metabolic state of the cells. The shift is controlled by the Rictor protein.
Although it has long been known that stem cells play a leading role in ageing, very little is known about the mechanisms that regulate the maintenance of the cells.
As part of the study, the introduction of a glutaminase inhibitor was found to restore the function of stem cells in mice which had a Rictor deficiency. So changing the metabolic pathways could increase the regenerative capacity of our tissues.
Could the findings help with hair loss drug treatments?
While this new research has pinpointed Rictor as a significant factor in hair loss, further research is now required. The current studies have only been carried out on mice. Now, larger, human studies need to be carried out.
In particular, the researchers need to look at how these preliminary findings could be used within stem cell biology in humans. They will be looking to see how the mechanisms identified in the study could be used in drug therapies for hair loss.
This provides some hope that a potential cure could be found for hair loss. However, as hair loss is caused by a wide range of factors, even if a drug treatment could be created, it won’t work for everyone. Changing the mechanisms of stem cells would be most effective in patients suffering with male or female pattern baldness.