Technology exclusively licensed by Follica Inc. from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania has been used to demonstrate a new approach to regenerate hair follicles in adult mammals which could be used therapeutically in humans.
The paper describing the data was published advanced online in Nature Medicine.
The paper's principal investigator, George Cotsarelis , MD, chair of Dermatology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and collaborators discovered that fibroblast growth factor 9 (Fgf9), a protein produced by a population of cells of the immune system in the skin, is critical for the formation of new hair follicles after disruption of the skin.
The findings illuminate a molecular mechanism to regenerate hair follicles that could enable new treatments for hair loss.
The authors first showed that Fgf9 is up-regulated in the dermis immediately before new hair follicle structures start to appear. Reducing Fgf9 expression decreased hair follicle formation, while overexpressing Fgf9 led to two to three-fold increase in the number of new hair follicles.
The study supports the notion that disruption of the skin produces a window of opportunity during which the cells in the regenerating epidermis can be pushed towards becoming a hair follicle, and highlights the potential for using Fgf9 therapeutically to boost the formation of new hair follicles during this window.
"This discovery sheds light on a novel mechanism to regenerate hair follicles and opens an exciting new avenue to develop treatments for hair loss in humans," noted Dr. William Ju of Follica, Inc. "Follica has developed a technology platform that is uniquely suited to support clinical translation of these new findings.
The Follica platform can be used to induce skin reepithelialization, which creates a "window of opportunity" during which the Fgf9 pathway could be modulated to potentiate hair neogenesis."
Follica has conducted preclinical testing of proprietary device configurations for skin disruption in combination with a number of known and novel drugs.