Cyclosporine A (CsA), a fungal compound used to prevent rejection of organ transplants, has several serious side-effects but also one interesting consequence: it stimulates hair growth. As demand for products reducing hair loss increases, the effects of CsA are inspiring scientists to look for new solutions. CsA itself can’t be used in hair loss treatments as it affects the immune system, but safer compounds with some similar modes of action might also promote hair growth. Recent research reveals that treatment with CsA reduces the levels of the protein SFRP1, which plays a role in controlling hair growth in the hair follicles (pictured, with cell nuclei in blue and β-catenin, another signalling molecule involved in this process, in red). Treating human hair follicles with WAY-316606, a compound which inhibits SFRP1 without CsA’s unwanted side-effects, also leads to increased hair growth, suggesting a promising candidate for developing future hair loss treatments.
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