Whilst many are looking to JAK inhibitors to provide the 'next big thing' in hair loss solutions, Korean researchers have found a novel approach involving the promotion of dermal papilla cells (DP cells).
The Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology has developed a pantetheine derivative-containing composition. This is said to promote hair growth by encouraging the proliferation of dermal papilla cells.
DP cells are imperative for the hair growth process as they form a niche environment for stem cells to develop and regenerate hair follicles. DP cells also play an important role in regulating the pigmentation of the hair.
Therefore, by promoting DP cell growth, hair growth is also encouraged. As the patent application states, the new compound "exhibits an excellent effect of promoting the growth of dermal papilla cells to thereby exhibit the effect of promoting hair growth".
Industry publication, Cosmetics Business reports that the Institute has been assigned US patent number 10,376,453, which was granted on 13th August 2019, for the purpose of alleviating or treating hair loss.
The Korean team's US patent says that the invention "...is prepared using D-pantethine as a starting material."
Cosmetics Business advises that, from this, "various derivatives were prepared, listed as 4-pentenoyl-D-pantetheine, 10-undecenoyl-D-pantetheine, isobutyl formate-D-pantetheine, and 2,4-dihydroxybenzoyl-D-pantetheine".
It further states that the US patent covers it as both a cosmetic composition or pharmaceutical composition "for preventing hair loss and promoting hair growth".
A number of delivery methods have been registered as being potential applications containing the new composition.
These include cosmetic products such as shampoo, conditioner, and styling products such as wax, aerosol sprays, colourants and colour-removing products, hair weaving preparations, hair gel, mousse, hairspray and hair oil. Potential pharmaceutical uses also registered include ointments, pastes, gels, serums, aerosol sprays, non-aerosol sprays, foams, creams, lotions, solutions and suspensions.
With regards its application and dosing, it is suggested "The amount and frequency of this application may be suitably determined depending on the patient's age and sex and the severity of hair loss."
The pantetheine derivative product is not intended to treat the underlying causes of any specific hair loss conditions - such as genetic sensitivity to the hormone DHT in cases of androgenetic alopecia. Rather it aims to encourage longer periods of active hair growth, presumably to overcome shedding.
Making clear the object of the team's invention, the patent informs it is "to provide a hair growth stimulant, which is capable of promoting the proliferation of dermal papilla cells to thereby prevent, alleviate or treat hair loss and exhibit excellent effects on hair growth or the like, and a cosmetic or pharmaceutical composition for promoting hair growth, which contains the hair growth stimulant."
There are a number of different hairloss conditions and lifestyle issues which may cause thinning hair outlined in the patent application, though it does not appear to state outright that the composition is designed as a treatment for any of these problems.
"The known causes of hair loss include excessive male hormone production, excessive sebum secretion, scalp function deterioration caused by peroxides, bacteria, etc., genetic factors, ageing, stress, and the like. In addition, the hair loss population is gradually increasing due to increased social stress, environmental pollution, westernized eating habits such as the consumption of instant foods, frequent permanent waves and hair colour changes, etc," reads the patent application, which was filed on 17th May 2019.
The type of hair loss all these issues can lead to is known as Telogen Effluvium, and it is a temporary condition, generally lasting no more than six months. The latter two hair styling issues may also cause chemical trauma, which is a separate issue and one which may cause permanent hair loss, depending on the extent of the damage.
It goes on to outline the mechanisms of Male Pattern Baldness and Female Pattern Hair Loss (together, androgenetic alopecia), the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata, hair loss from damaging styling practices - Traction Alopecia.
Presumably, as all these conditions are mentioned in the patent application, the researchers hope that, by using their discovery to induce a proliferation of DP cells, this may extend the active 'anagen' stage of the users' hair growth cycle.
People with hair loss - specifically androgenetic alopecia - tend to have increasingly shorter anagen phases as their hereditary condition progresses over time. Therefore, extending this phase where hair actively grows may be of benefit. Currently, the topical hair loss treatment known as high strength minoxidil is used for this purpose and is both MHRA-licensed and FDA-approved for the treatment of male and female pattern baldness.
As this is a patent application, to register ownership of the technology and/or formula for the outlined uses, rather than the results of a clinical trial, it is hard to be certain which stage this product is at.
The patent information does contain some data showing the results obtained in testing to date, but further clinical trial findings would be necessary to assess how close to being submitted for the appropriate medical regulatory licenses and approvals this composition is.
In the meantime, we await further updates regarding this innovative approach to boosting hair growth and treating hair loss, and will publish these here on the Belgravia blog when they become available.
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