For years, scientists have been searching for ways to activate the hair growth of dormant hair follicles. Recently, scientists from Columbia University Medical Center may have discovered a way to achieve this process, after locating a family of enzymes that prevent hair from growing.
The Janus Kinase family of enzymes, commonly referred to as the JAK enzymes, have been shown to prevent the growth of hair. By preventing these enzymes from functioning, scientists have been able to achieve hair growth in people who otherwise couldn’t.
Indeed, these so-called JAK inhibitors could be the ultimate secret in preventing balding in humans.
At the present time, two JAK inhibitors have been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Neither of these JAK inhibitors are currently approved for treating hair loss, but that is likely to change after more testing takes place.
Leader of the Columbia University Medical Center research Doctor Angela Christiano said, “What we've found is promising, though we haven't yet shown it is effective for male pattern baldness. More work needs to be done to test formulations of JAK inhibitors specially made for the scalp to determine whether they can induce hair growth in humans."
When the team tested the JAK inhibitors on mice, they found that new hair grew within ten days, thereby greatly accelerating the growth phase of hair follicles. Mice that were not given JAK inhibitors grew hair at a much slower rate, and none of the growth was new hair.
Doctor Christiano explained, “There are very few compounds that can push hair follicles into their growth cycle so quickly. Some topical agents induce tufts of hair here and there after a few weeks, but very few have such a potent and rapid-acting effect."
The team also tested the drugs on human hair follicles that were grown in a laboratory. They found that the human hair that was treated with the JAK inhibitors grew at faster rates than untreated hair.
For now, Doctor Christiano and her team are looking forward to continuing their research, which could very well lead to a permanent solution for balding.