Scientists have found that the protein that activates hair follicle growth also inhibits fat production, a breakthrough that may lead to development of a new cream that could help shed the flab and prevent hair loss.
The world first research confirmed that changes in the hair growth cycle led to fluctuations in the thickness of the underlying fat layer of the skin – essentially meaning that the skin can regulate fat production, researchers said.
The research led by Professor Fiona Watt at King’s College London and Professor of Dermatology Rodney Sinclair from the University of Melbourne could potentially be used both as a means to replace fat lost in scar tissue or as a localised treatment for obesity. “The specific chemicals identified in this study could be produced synthetically and used in creams for topical application to the skin to modulate growth of fat beneath the skin,” Sinclair said.
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“A cream could trim fat specifically where it was applied by ‘pausing’ the production of factors that contribute to fat cell growth,” he said.
The effect of changes in the fat tissue on the synchronised patterns of hair follicle growth has long been established. “This is the first demonstration that the opposite also holds true in that the skin below the hair follicle can regulate the development of fat,” Sinclair said. This discovery could also affect future treatment of obesity, male and female pattern baldness and alopecia – male and female baldness – an autoimmune condition that affects one to two per cent of the general population at some stage in their life.