A new microneedle patch brings hair follicles back to life

Photo by the author
by Gianluca Riccio

Medicine, Technology

A new microneedle patch brings hair follicles back to life

A recent study by Chinese scientists demonstrated the effectiveness of a new hair follicle regeneration patch, which could help resolve a common form of hair loss. The patch's microneedles were used on bald mice and produced new hair growth.

The device works by counteracting the damage to the follicles caused by oxidative stress, and produces thicker and thicker hair than other methods available.

Androgenetic alopecia in the sights

The first objective of this scientific research published in the journal Nano Letters (I link it to you here)? It is the most common type of hair loss, androgenetic alopecia. In short, oxidative stress is thought to be a key cause for this condition, causing damage to the cells responsible for follicle growth. 

Last year, scientists proved another microneedle patch which showed the first promising results in mouse models with androgenetic alopecia. That patch worked by releasing what scientists call it nanozymes, artificial enzymes designed to mimic the behavior of certain enzymes in the body. 

Today, the authors of the new study claim to have made a big step forward in the design of these nanozymes thanks to an absolute protagonist of the technological scene. Who is? This is machine learning (for Italian friends: machine learning).

In summary, hair grew back thicker (right image) in mice treated with the new microneedle patch

Machine learning to save hair follicles

The research team used machine learning to select efficiently 91 different candidate nanozymes, and predict which of these can neutralize the oxidative effects in the body. The "winning" compound (manganese thiophosphate) has been tested on human skin cells, showing important efficacy.

At that point, the scientists created a microneedle patch containing this compound - the target? Spread it deep into the skin. Tests on mice produced the regeneration of hair follicles in 13 days, resulting in the regrowth of stronger and denser hair. Much more than those in mice treated with current known remedies (testosterone or minoxidil).

In summary, two birds with one stone. Certainly still a step, perhaps decisive, towards new generation treatments against hair loss. But above all, the demonstration of how machine learning will be very useful in the search for nanozymes that have infinite possibilities to cure our body (from skin regeneration after an injury to cancer).

What to say? It will never be too late when this problem is put aside.