BEIJING, Feb. 17 (Xinhuanet) -- U.S. researchers have accidentally discovered a chemical that caused mice to regrow hair by blocking a stress-related hormone.
This could have the potential to be a breakthrough therapy for human baldness, according to a new study Thursday on the online journal PLoS One.
Researchers from University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) were studying gut function in genetically engineered mutant mice that suffered alopecia -- hair loss -- because of an increase in corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), a compound that seems to play a role in how the body responds to stress.
When they injected astressin-B -- a chemical compound that blocks CRF -- once daily for five days, the mice re-grew hair. It was an effect that held up for four months.
"This was totally unexpected," said co-author Million Mulugeta of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "We do not work on hair; we did not set out to study hair growth."
"Our findings show that a short-duration treatment with this compound causes an astounding long-term hair regrowth in chronically stressed mutant mice," said Mulugeta
Researchers suggest that temporarily blocking CRF receptors could be "a breakthrough therapy for alopecia," and might also hold potential for male pattern baldness and hair loss due to chemotherapy.
Co-author Yvette Tache, a professor of medicine at UCLA, said it could take up to five years to start a clinical trial in humans.
"This research could be beneficial in a lot of diseases which are stress-related in their manifestations or exacerbation of symptoms," she said.