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Promoting hair growth by elimination of epidermal senescent cells

Technology Number: 


Principal Investigator



Molecular Cell Biology

Hair loss (alopecia) is mostly associated with aging, although it can affect people at various ages. Genetics, drugs, chemotherapy, stress, and medical conditions are just a few of the factors that are associated with alopecia. Non-surgical medical treatments for alopecia, such as oral and topical drugs, may have severe side effects and are not always effective in restoring lost hair. Therefore there is a need for medications that can encourage hair growth as well as prevent further balding.

The team of Dr. Valery Krizhanovsky discovered that by eliminating senescent cells in the epidermis they can revive hair follicle stem cells that induce hair growth. The team achieved this via the use of small molecule inhibitors of Bcl-2 family proteins and showed that such treatment is beneficial to the viability of senescent cells in the epidermis, subsequently able to restore hair growth potential.


?  Restores hair growth potential – induces repopulation of stem cells in follicles, possibly returning hair growth and preventing hair loss.

?  Wide variety – can be used to treat alopecia, whether due to genetic, environmental or behavioral factors, or following chemotherapy.

?  Non-androgenic – can be used by both men and women.

Technology's Essence

The group of Dr. Krizhanovsky showed that Bcl-W and Bcl-XL are elevated in senescent cells and provide the cells with resistance to apoptosis. Using a mouse model whereby epidermal senescent cells were induced, led to fur loss in the mice. The Krizhanovsky team then checked inhibition of Bcl-2 family proteins by relevant small molecule inhibitors, which induced proliferation of stem cells in the hair follicles restoring the capacity of hair growth. Furthermore the principle concept of the Krizhanovsky groups work has been corroborated independently. By using a fast-aging mouse model that has accelerated hair loss, the group of Dr. de Keizer demonstrated in vivo that inducing senescent cell apoptosis targeting a separate pathway, led to the restoration of fur growth[1]

[1] Baar et al., 2017, Cell 169, 132–147

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