Microneedle patch to cure baldness developed with machine learning

The researchers used machine learning to predict compounds that could neutralize reactive oxygen species causing baldness in the scalp.

The team from the National Natural Science Foundation of China used the best candidate from their results to construct a proof-of-concept microneedle patch and effectively regenerate mouse hair.

Most people with severe hair loss suffer from androgenic alopecia, also known as male or female pattern baldness.

In this condition, hair follicles can be damaged by androgens, inflammation, or an overabundance of reactive oxygen species, such as free oxygen radicals.

When oxygen free radical levels are too high, they can overwhelm the body’s antioxidant enzymes that usually control them.

Superoxide dismutase (SOD) is one such enzyme, and researchers have recently created SOD mimics called “nanozymes.” But so far, the ones that have been reported are not very effective in removing oxygen free radicals.

The researchers used machine learning, a form of AI, to help them design a better nanozyme to treat hair loss. They tested machine learning models with 91 different combinations of transition metals, phosphates and sulfates.

The nanosheets were synthesized from the most promising combination and in initial tests with human skin fibroblast cells, they significantly reduced levels of reactive oxygen species without causing harm.

Based on these results, the team prepared microneedle patches using the nanosheets and treated mouse models affected by androgenic alopecia with them.

Over 13 days, the animals regenerated thicker strands of hair that more densely covered their previously bald bottoms than mice treated with testosterone or minoxidil. The researchers say their study has both produced a nanozyme treatment for hair regeneration and indicated the potential for computational methods to be used in the design of future nanozyme therapies.

While the battle against baldness is ongoing, significant efforts are being made by various research teams to combat the disease.

In 2019, researchers at Columbia University successfully grew human hair in a dish that could one day expand the availability of hair restoration surgery.

It was the first time that human hair follicles were generated entirely in a box, without the need to implant them into the skin.

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Sherry J. Basler