Updated on June 15, 2017
HairClone Cont., KROX20 Discovery: Weekly Thoughts 5/23/17
Welcome to a new edition of Weekly Thoughts. I’ve got some details to share on how things are going at HairClone these days, as well as notions on two promising studies on genes involved in hair growth. One of the studies has had the internet ablaze lately with KROX talk. It’s surely a wonderful discovery, though it may be some time before we hear more about it. The other gene therapy discussed is a bit more of a surprise. Let’s see what’s going on.
The HairClone Zone
Over a month ago, a video was released through a local Texas news station detailing the current progress of HairClone. The video features Dr. Ken Williams, a clinical partner of HairClone, discussing the option of administering HairClone’s new technique on one of his patients. Video seen below:
The video also mentions HairClone is planning to begin a small clinical trial towards the end of 2017, which is good news. But what’s better than some news? More news. I’ve got the latest here from HairClone CEO Paul Kemp on what is currently at hand for his company, and also some commentary on the video that was released:
“The video came out of contacts the media had directly with Dr. Ken Williams who is one of our Founder Clinical Partners and who we are really pleased to be working with. He is helping to support the work we are carrying out now and he will be involved with us once we are running clinical trials.
We have had a lot of interest from people about equity crowdfunding and we did spend a lot of time discussing this with a crowd funding platform in Belgium. However, the financial regulations there did not seem to be the most appropriate to what we are trying to achieve and we decided not to use them. We are still active in this area and hope to have a campaign up and running in the summer.
We are extremely pleased with how things are progressing and proud of the clinical and scientific network that we have already established and we will be making a series of exciting announcements throughout the rest of this year.”
Anyone interested in equity crowdfunding HairClone? Stay tuned for more on that and other HairClone developments coming later this year.
KROX20 a Major Factor
It’s been a popular news item recently, researchers at the University of Texas led by Dr. Lu Le have identified two proteins that play a major role in the growth and pigmentation of hair follicles. This research follows suit with other significant hair growth discoveries of years past – the scientists were studying a different biological target (cancer) and then came across the hair growth observations “accidentally.” The two proteins identified in this study were KROX20 and “SCF” or Stem Cell Factor. When the scientists removed SCF from hair follicle progenitor cells, the hair that grew on the mice was gray and eventually turned white. When scientists removed KROX20 from the cells, no hair grew at all.
A therapeutic target of this research could be to look at ways of turning on the gene responsible for producing KROX20, or if only pigment is needed and not hair itself, turning on the gene responsible for SCF. Lead researcher Dr. Lu Le announced in the original article: “With this knowledge, we hope in the future to create a topical compound or to safely deliver the necessary gene to hair follicles to correct these cosmetic problems.” At this time, we don’t know how long that could take. It could be a little while before more trials begin, but I certainly wish Dr. Le and his team congratulations on this research and a lot of expediency for their further developments.
COL17A1 – New Development
In February 2016, Emi Nishimura and researchers identified Collagen17A1 as a key gene which keeps hair follicles cycling healthily. Nishimura et al. noted that DNA damage lead to a depletion of COL17A1 in older hair follicles. When older hair follicles lacked COL17A1, some of the hair follicle stem cells would turn into skin producing cells instead of hair follicle producing cells. Thus, a sufficient amount of COL17A1 in the hair follicle is necessary to keep hair growing and cycling. I found this research particularly interesting when it was released and theorized that creating a therapy to increase levels of COL17A1 in hair cells must be underway.
While doing research in the Follicle Thought lab earlier this week I discovered Emi Nishimura had done an interview with our old friends Aderans sometime over the past year. The interview was based around Emi’s COL17A1 research. Fitting in with the theme of this Weekly Thoughts, Nishimura explained in her interview that COL17A1 also plays a role preventing gray hair. This is based on the fact that hair follicle stem cells are responsible for keeping the melanocyte cells functioning properly, and when hair follicle stem cells are affected by lack of COL17A1 this too can lead to gray hair.
I was excited to read near the end of the interview, Nishimura is currently looking into therapeutic avenues to address COL17A1 suffiency in hair follicles. She stated:
“Accordingly, we are examining the possibility of reducing hair loss through the inhibition of degradation of collagen XVII by inhibiting neutrophil elastase. We are also conducting research for a drug to prevent collagen XVII from being decreased or to increase it.”
It is hopeful that one of those three potentials will be fruitful. I hope to hear more on this in the future.
Until next time, be well.
Anonymous Scientist, get in touch.*