Researchers say they have discovered a new way to activate the stem cells in the hair follicle to stimulate hair growth. 


According to researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, the experiment, conducted on mice, may lead to new drugs that could promote hair growth for people with baldness or alopecia.

After initially blocking, and subsequently increasing the production of lactate genetically in mice, the researchers identified two drugs that, when applied to the skin of mice, influenced hair follicle stem cells in distinct ways to promote lactate production.

According to them, the first drug, called RCGD423, activates a cellular signaling pathway called JAK-Stat, which transmits information from outside the cell to the nucleus of the cell.


The findings showed that JAK-Stat activation leads to the increased production of lactate and this, in turn, drives hair follicle stem cell activation and quicker hair growth.

The other drug, called UK5099, blocks pyruvate from entering the mitochondria, which forces the production of lactate in the hair follicle stem cells and accelerates hair growth in mice.

“Before this, no one knew that increasing or decreasing the lactate would have an effect on hair follicle stem cells,” said William Lowry, a professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology.


“Once we saw how altering lactate production in the mice influenced hair growth, it led us to look for potential drugs that could be applied to the skin and have the same effect.”

The researchers explained that the experimental drugs were used in preclinical tests only and have not been tested in humans or approved by the food and drug administration as safe and effective for use in humans

The research was published in the journal Nature Cell Biology.


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