Hairy Moles May Contain the Cure for Baldness: Study

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June 22, 2023 – Researchers may have discovered the elusive cure to baldness in an unlikely place: those unsightly hairs that sometimes grow out of skin moles.

Researchers found that a specific molecule in those hairy moles “causes normally dormant and diminutive hair follicles to activate their stem cells for robust growth of long and thick hairs,” lead researcher Maksim Plikus, PhD, a professor of developmental and cell biology at the University of California, Irvine, said in a statement.

The findings could lead to new treatments for the hair loss condition known as androgenetic alopecia, which researchers said occurs in both men and women. It is also known as male-pattern baldness in men. 

The global team led by researchers at the university analyzed hair follicle stem cells and discovered that a molecule called osteopontin drives accelerated hair growth. Stem cells can develop into different kinds of cells, whether they are in the body or in a laboratory, and are often involved in regenerative or repair processes, according to the Mayo Clinic.

This latest study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, was done on mice. A drug company co-founded by Plikus said in a news release that it had further tested the hair growth technique on human hair follicles, and “the researchers were able to induce new growth by human hair follicles in a robust pre-clinical model.” The company, Amplifica, said in the release that it has an exclusive licensing agreement with the university for the new hair growth “inventions” described in the newly published findings.

Hair loss from androgenetic alopecia occurs in two out of every three men, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Amplifica said the condition affects an estimated 50 million men and 30 million women in the U.S. 

The hair loss and thinning can begin as early as the late teens, the Cleveland Clinic says. The condition is progressive and can follow a specific pattern, such as the hairline creating an “M” or “U” shape midway through the process toward complete baldness on the top of the head, with a remaining thin band of hair around the sides of the head.