According to NYU School of Medicine, USA, there has been a way to regrow hair on damaged or wounded skin.
By regrowing hair strands on damaged skin, the findings explain better as to why hair does not normally grow on wounded skin, and has the potential to search for better drugs to regrow hair and restore hair growth.
Can we truly regrow hair?
Published in Nature Communications, the study examined the effect of distinct signalling pathways in damaged skin of laboratory mice. There was a specific focus on fibroblasts, which are cells that secrete collagen, and have the structural protein most responsible for maintaining the shape and strength of skin and hair.
As part of their investigation, researchers activated the sonic hedgehog signalling pathway used by cells to communicate with each other. The pathway is known to be very active during the early stages of human growth in the womb, when hair follicles are formed, but is otherwise stalled in wounded skin in healthy adults. Researchers say this most likely explains why hair follicles fail to grow in skin replaced after injury or surgery.
Study senior investigator and cell biologist Mayumi Ito, PhD, an associate professor in the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology at NYU Langone Health, USA, explains: “Our results show that stimulating fibroblasts through the sonic hedgehog pathway can trigger hair growth not previously seen in wound healing”.
To regrow hair on damaged skin is a medical need that is yet to be met
The researchers have a more prominent goal, that being to signal mature skin to revert back to its embryonic state so that it can grow new hair follicles, not just on wounded skin, but also on people who have experienced balding due to age.
Ito adds: “Now we know that it’s a signalling issue in cells that are very active as we develop in the womb, but less so in mature skin cells as we age.”
Key among the study’s findings was that no signs of hair growth were observed in untreated skin, but were observed in treated skin, offering evidence that sonic hedgehog signalling was behind the growth of hair.
To bypass the risk of tumours reported in other experiments that turned on the sonic hedgehog pathway, the research team turned on only fibroblasts located just beneath the skin’s surface where hair follicle roots (dermal papillae) first appear.
Ito and her team plan to further investigate how chemical and genetic stimulants of fibroblasts might activate the sonic hedgehog pathway in wounded human skin. The ultimate goal is to establish likely drug targets for hair regrowth.