Not quite ready to shave your head to deal with your thinning strands? You might not have to take such a drastic measure: A new discovery that activates hair stem cells may hold promise for guys with baldness, Nature Cell Biology reports.
When your hair follicle stem cells take in the sugar glucose from your bloodstream, they metabolize it into something called pyruvate.
The cells either send the pyruvate to the mitochondria in the cells to create energy, or they convert the compound into lactate. It’s this lactate that seems to hold promise in hair regrowth, the researchers found.
For instance, when the researchers blocked lactate production in mice, they found it prevented the activation of their hair stem cell follicles, meaning that hair would not regrow. But when they increased lactate production, this triggered follicle activation, sparking the hair growth cycle, the researchers report.
So they took these findings and incorporated them two new drugs: The first, called RCGD423, leads to increased production of lactate, which drives hair regrowth. The second, UK5099, blocks pyruvate from entering the mitochondria, forcing the production of lactate.
Both of these drugs are covered by provisional patents filed by the UCLA scientists, but further studies are necessary to test their safety and effectiveness in people.
Currently, they’re considered experimental, and have not yet been tested in people or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for human use.
In the meantime, if you’re worried about shedding, try these 5 methods for stopping hair loss—and possibly even growing some back.