A word of caution before the fanfare as this has so far only been tested on mice, but researchers say they have been able to modify a protein that can stop the ageing process and may reverse hair loss.
In what could turn out to be one of the most remarkable scientific stories of the year, doctors in Austria, the Netherlands and the US claim to have developed a protein that can “turn off” senescent cells – cells which contribute to the ageing process and can lead to age-related diseases like arthritis.
For people with the genetic hair loss conditions Male Pattern Baldness and, the women’s equivalent, Female Pattern Hair Loss, this could be extremely interesting as the incidence of both conditions increases with age.
Senescent alopecia – age-related hair thinning which was recently discovered to involve follicles turning to skin as our natural collagen production slows down – could also be potentially avoided if this research eventually leads to a viable anti-ageing or hair loss product.
Seek and destroy cells
The senescent cells that the researchers were studying are those which have stopped dividing, and the doctors’ goal was to create a modified version of a protein called FOX04-DRI which could seek out and destroy these cells in mice.
As the research paper, dated 23rd March 2017, states: “Senescent cells are thought to impair tissue function, and their genetic clearance can delay features of aging. Identifying how senescent cells avoid apoptosis allows for the prospective design of anti-senescence compounds to address whether homeostasis can also be restored. Here, we identify FOXO4 as a pivot in senescent cell viability.”
To further test what the modified protein could do, the mice – both naturally ageing specimens and some that were genetically modified to age more quickly – were exposed to chemotherapy drugs so that extra stress would be placed on their cells. According to the NHS website, “The researchers found that FOXO4-DRI was able to neutralise toxicity caused by chemotherapy in the rapidly ageing and naturally ageing mice.” Continues below
The full research findings were published by the Cell journal under the title: Targeted Apoptosis of Senescent Cells Restores Tissue Homeostasis in Response to Chemotoxicity and Aging. The results of a separate mice study investigating how certain proteins ‘could underlie some effects of ageing and propensity to age-related diseases’ was also published the next day, this time in the Science journal. The over-arching ideas and conclusions from both studies as to how certain protein interactions influence ageing appear to back each other up.
Bald patches regrow
What is especially interesting from a hair loss point of view is that mice in the Cell journal tests which had patches of missing fur began to recover their coats after around 10 days. Two weeks later, the mice were showing signs of being fitter, with the Daily Mail reporting that “older mice began to run double the distance of their counterparts who did not receive the drug.”
The treatment itself lasted for more than 10 months, and involved giving the mice infusions of a compound which causes ageing cells to effectively commit suicide. Study author Dr Peter de Keizer said that no obvious side-effects from the treatment were observed.
The NHS goes on to caution, however, that the findings are very early stage animal research and should not necessarily be an indicator that the same thing would happen in humans. Additionally, it points out that further studies would be needed before the science could be tested on humans.
Medical advances and current treatment options
Advances in medical science are paving the way for a whole host of new treatment possibilities for Androgenetic Alopecia, although nothing that might be described as Earth-shattering appears ready for imminent general release.
Fortunately, the UK Government’s MHRA and the American equivalent, the FDA, have already licensed two clinically-proven drugs for use on genetic hair loss for men, one of which is also licensed for the treatment of Female Pattern Hair Loss. These have helped many thousands of individuals to stabilise their shedding and in many cases significant new growth has been seen.
Men and women following this type of treatment don’t have to go it alone, either. Treatment can be prescribed and overseen by a well-established clinic, experienced in providing tailored hair loss solutions. At Belgravia our bespoke approach to tailoring treatment courses for each client, featuring clinically-proven medications such as high strength minoxidil with additional Hair Growth Boosters, based on their specific needs, has produced a constant supply of Success Stories, which can be seen in our regularly updated gallery.
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.