Study Shows McDonald’s Fries Could Help Cure Hair Loss

Would you like hair with that?

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We finally have an excuse to eat McDonald’s  fries (even though Wendy’s fries are infinitely better). As it turns out, McDonald’s french fries could assist in curing baldness.

A Surprising Discovery

According to a study conducted at Yokohama National University in Japan, the chemical known as dimethylpolysiloxane which is found in McDonald’s fries, can assist in the regrowth of HFGs, or “hair follicle germs.” During the study which was conducted on hairless mice, researchers found that transplantation of HGF chips into the rodents’ backs prepared with the use of dimethylpolusiloxane, resulted in the growth of new hairs. The study proved a success, which made researchers hopeful the new findings could assist in the development of a similar therapy for human hair loss.

McDonald's fries cure hair loss in mice
Culture vessel for the mass preparation of hair follicle germs (above). Generated hairs on the back of a mouse (below). (Yokohama National University)

“This simple method is very robust and promising,” says study author and professor Junji Fukuda of Yokohama National University. “We hope this technique will improve human hair regenerative therapy to treat hair loss such as androgenic alopecia. In fact, we have preliminary data that suggests human HFG formation using human keratinocytes and dermal papilla cells.”

The study, which was published in Biomaterials, also states that dimethylpolysiloxane, a chemical that helps prevent frothing in cooking oil, was “oxygen-permeable,” and led to the growth of new hairs on the mice where the HFGs were located.

“The key for the mass production of HFGs was a choice of substrate materials for culture vessel,” said Fukuda in the study. “We used oxygen-permeable dimethylpolysiloxane (PDMS) at the bottom of the culture vessel, and it worked very well,” says Fukuda.

More Hope for the Future of Hair Loss

Regenerative medicine and technology for hair loss, continues to evolve making it more and more possible for people who suffer from balding to regrow their hair. Another study from 2017 conducted at UCLA found that activating new stem cells during a “hair cycle” could prompt hair growth. The team discovered that stem cells located in our hair follicles, differ from regular skin cells on our bodies. These cells are what assist in the growth of hair throughout our life span. While these cells typically are not active, during a “hair cycle” they become active which results in new hair growth.

Stem cells grow hair on bald mice
Untreated mouse skin showing no hair growth (left) compared to mouse skin treated with the drug UK5099 (right) showing hair growth. (UCLA)

Researchers also found the stem cells undergo a particular process that involves the cells changing glucose into pyruvate a metabolite, which cells will then either direct to the mitochondria inside the hair cells or transform it into lactate. With this discovery, researchers wondered if slowing down or increasing the creation of lactate would have an effect on the cells. In the end, it was found that when they decreased the production of lactate in mice more hair growth took place.

Once we saw how altering lactate production in the mice influenced hair growth, it led us to look for potential drugs that could be applied to the skin and have some effect.

Now more testing has taken place for new drugs that could also help battle against hair loss. While the drugs RCGD423 and UK5099 which both help to encourage the production of lactate have not been tested on people just yet, the outcome of studies that contain the drugs certainly bring more hope for those dealing with balding as well as the various causes of hair loss.

“I think we’ve only just begun to understand the critical role metabolism plays in hair growth and stem cells in general,” says Aimee Flores, study author and lab trainee. “I’m looking forward to the potential application of these new findings for hair loss and beyond.”

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