A chemical used in the frying of McDonald’s chips may cure baldness and even regrow hair, scientists claim.
They have regrown hair on mice with a simple technique through the use of human stem cells. This generated fresh follicles capable of sprouting luxurious new locks and within days the lab rodents had furry backs and scalps.
Preliminary experiments suggest the groundbreaking therapy will also work in people.
The Japanese team’s breakthrough came after they managed to mass-produce hair follicle “germs” (HFGs) in the lab for the first time. These are the cells that fuel follicle development. They are the Holy Grail of hair loss research as they have never been regenerated before.
The secret was to use dimethylpolysiloxane, a chemical used in the frying process of McDonald’s chips to prevent the cooking oil from foaming for safety reasons, at the bottom of the vessel in which the were cultured.
“It was particularly effective for the HFGs because oxygen easily passes through,” Professor Junyi Fukuda of Yokohama National University said. “The key for the mass production of HFGs was the choice of substrate materials for the culture vessel.”
“We used oxygen permeable dimethylpolyiloxane at the bottom of culture vessel, and it worked very well. The method, described in Biomaterials, created up to 5 000 HFG’s simultaneously which led to new hair growth after they were transplanted into mice.”
Professor Fukuda says hair loss troubles a substantial number of individuals all over the world particularly in aging societies and billions are spent on inventing new treatments every year.
Hair regenerative medicine has emerged as a new therapy to combat the problem. It involves regenerating hair follicles, the tiny organs that grow and sustain hair. But one of the more challenging obstacles has been the preparation of HFGs, their reproductive source, on a large scale
The researchers may have overcome this. “This method is very robust and promising,” Professor Fukuda says.