Japanese scientists say they were able to regrow hair on mice by using a chemical found in McDonald’s french fries.
From Fry Oil To Hair Growth Solutions
The study conducted at Yokohama National University aimed to create hair follicle germs (HFGs), or cells that support the development of hair follicles, in hairless areas. Creating mass quantities of HFGs simultaneously has previously proven to be very difficult, hence the shortage of universally effective hair loss treatments.
But researchers set out to accomplish this with an oxygen-permeable solution that included a chemical called dimethylpolysiloxane.
Found in silicone, dimethylpolysiloxane is added to the oil used to cook french fries and other fried items at numerous fast food restaurants like McDonald’s. The chemical reportedly stops the oil from frothing or boiling over.
A History-Making Technique
After isolating dimethylpolysiloxane, the team added it to the solution and was able to generate approximately 5,000 HFGs, marking the first time in history HFGs were created via this method.
The solution was then put into a culture vessel and injected into the hairless backs and scalps of mice. Just a few days later, new black hairs had begun to sprout in these areas.
Professor and study co-author Junji Fukuda called the technique “simple,” and claimed that preliminary tests suggested that it would be successful if tested on human skin cells as well.
"The key for the mass production of HFGs was a choice of substrate materials for culture vessel," he added in a press release. "We hope that this technique will improve human hair regenerative therapy to treat hair loss such as androgenic alopecia."
Should Bald People Hit The Drive-Thru?
While dimethylpolysiloxane was crucial to the success of the study, there is no data that shows that ingesting the food items that contain the chemical will trigger hair growth.
Dr. Jeff Donovan, dermatologist and president of the Canadian Hair Loss Foundation, told Canada’s Global News that dimethylpolysiloxane’s role in the solution was allowing oxygen to reach the growing HFGs.
“In the last few years, there’s been increased interest in cell-based therapies. Right now, the most popular treatment uses platelet-rich plasma, where we take patients’ blood, spin it down to get the plasma and then inject it back into the scalp,” he says. “But if we can somehow grow cells in a lab from harvesting a few hairs from a patient and turn it into millions of cells that we inject back into the scalp to actually grow hair, it would be the ultimate treatment for thinning hair.”
It could take years for a hair loss treatment based on the Japanese team’s technique to be cleared for release but Dr. Donovan believes it could help anyone who is experiencing balding, even those who have been bald for decades.
This is because the technique has the ability to grow new HFGs from existing hairs, and most people who are bald have at least some hair left. Just one existing hair could therefore be used to grow millions of HFGs that would then be injected into the patient’s scalp.
“This would open the door to all types of treatments,” Dr. Donovan said. “If it works, then even if they’re very bald, those hairs should grow very well.”