IIT researchers just created a silk-based hair follicle that can do away with animal testing for hair-growth drug tests

IIT researchers just created a silk-based hair follicle that can do away with animal testing for hair-growth drug tests

Every now and then scientists are coming up with studies on how to combat hair loss but none of those have been proven much of use yet.

In a first, scientists from IIT Delhi developed a silk-based hydrogel that emulates the process of hair growth, an advanced method that may help screen novel drugs for treating hair loss without using animal tests.



The flaw lies in the method of research, i.e. testing products on animals.

"The major reason for such inefficiency is there is no suitable human cell-based in vitro models available for drug testing. The currently available anti-alopecia drugs and cosmetics are tested on animals," said Sourabh Ghosh, an associate professor at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi.

"But, due to the differences in the immunology and physiology amongst animals and humans drastically limit the success of such drugs," Ghosh told.

"We strongly felt the need to develop an ideal three dimension in vitro model of hair follicle using human cells," he said.

Such models offer tremendous potential as rapid drug and cosmetic testing tools, results of which can be successfully extrapolated in humans.

If successful, such drugs would tend to solve the unending needs of the persons suffering from hair loss thus improving the aesthetic as well as physiological state of the patients, Ghosh said.



According to a study published in the Journal of Cellular Physiology, the three-dimensional mini organs can mimic the different stages of hair growth in humans.

The team of IIT developers along with ITC Life Sciences and Technology Centre researchers from Bangalore developed the hydrogel by combining a mixture of silkproteins, isolated from silkworm cocoons, and gelatin.

Tyrosinase enzyme was used to develop a stable hydrogel system.

"The system provided an ideal environment to develop a complete 3D model of hair follicle regeneration," Ghosh said.

"Since we have already successfully tested the action of a model hair regeneration drug (minoxidil) in our lab-based hair follicle model, we strongly feel that our hair follicle model is ready to be used by companies to test their products," he said.

Hair loss is known as androgenetic which can be seen in both men and women but is more dramatic in men.

Alopecia areata is a form of hair loss produced by the autoimmune destruction of hair follicles in localized areas of skin.

Alopecia - condition that occurs due to abnormal growth cycle or reduction in the size of hair follicles - is the major reason contributing to permanent hair loss, researchers said.


There could be several reasons responsible for temporary and permanent hair loss including:

  • Thyroid disease
  • Anaemia
  • Protein deficiency
  • Chemotherapy
  • Low vitamin levels
  • Genes,
  • Trauma
  • Surgeries.



Scientists in Japan had discovered how to grow hair follicles quickly.

The study used two kinds of cells placed in silicone containers to cultivate "hair follicle germs" -- the sources of the tiny organs that grow and sustain hair.

With this technology, the team of scientists led by professor Junji Fukuda at the Yokohama National University was able to cultivate 5000 hair follicle germs within a few days.


sources :  India Today