Stages of regrowth in bald mice once the 'antagonist' compound is administered.: UCLA/VA I feel like I'm writing headlines for one of the shocker tabloids, but the above lead just happens to be very real and very significant to bald humans. Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the Veterans Administration (VA) did discover a chemical compound that caused hair regrowth in mice with alopecia, but they were testing the compound on the mouse digestive system.
Specifically, the researchers were studying how stress affects digestion, as it does in irritable bowel syndrome, for example. Working with genetically engineered mice which overproduced a stress hormone called corticotrophin-releasing factor or CRF. As the mice age, it so happens, CRF also causes loss of fur, much the same way that stress can cause baldness in humans.
The focus of the study was to test the effectiveness of an 'antagonist' compound called astressin-B, which blocks the effects of CRF, to see if it would reverse the effects of irritable bowel syndrome in the mice. After five administrations of the astressin-B, once each day for five days, the astressin-B appeared to have reversed the condition.
But the researchers returned to the mice to find that the bald ones had regrown a very thick dark coat of fur. In another four months, the mice still had their full coats.
Lead researcher, Million Mulugeta, explained that CRF releases several stress related hormones and that further research will identify which of these hormones is most directly related to hair loss. The team is optimistic about astressin-B as a future treatment for human hair loss.
“These hormones and their receptors are present in the skin both in mice and
humans, and they are very similar," Mulageta told Voice of America News. "So all this gives us hope that the
antagonist may work in human(s).”
Mulageta doesn't know, however, whether the treatment will succeed for those who have lost their hair due to non-stress related causes, such as chemotherapy.