Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital have been able to grow mice hair faster and thicker thanks to a protein that promotes blood vessel growth in skin.
The mouse hair follicles – while no greater in number than those of normal mice – are individually bigger, increasing hair volume 70 percent. If the protein has the same powers in humans, it could lead to the first blood-vessel-growth-based therapy for male pattern baldness.
In male pattern hair loss, the follicles to not disappear, they shrink. If scientists can make follicles bigger, men may be able to regrow hair.
Many physicians advise patients to massage their scalps as way of increasing blood flow. A few scientific studies have suggested that people with hair loss may have fewer blood vessels. Prior to this study, nobody had measured how closely blood vessel growth is correlated with hair loss.
Scientists at MGH compared two types of mice, a control group and a group genetically programmed to produce an abundance of a protein (VEGF) that triggers blood vessel formation. The VEGF-enhanced mice grew hair faster and thicker than did the control mice.
VEGF-enhanced blood vessels may be delivering an extra supply of growth factors, in addition to oxygen and nutrients, to the hair follicle. Detmar and his colleagues are developing a technique to deliver VEGF topically to the scalp.