Synthetic Sandalwood Found to Prolong Human Hair Growth

Source: University of Manchester

Summary: A team of researchers has found that applying sandalwood to the scalp can prolong human hair growth. The group describes experiments they conducted with the synthetic material and human skin samples.

Hair follicles are groups of cells that surround hair roots, they have a three-stage life cycle. In the first stage, hair starts to grow due to stimulation of the root. Hair growth is caused by a process in which follicle cells are converted into the hair. In the second stage, cells in the follicle stop being converted into the hair. In the third stage, the hair is ejected and the follicle goes into a rest period. For normal hair growth, this process is repeated over and over. The work by the researchers showed that the first stage could be made to last longer by applying synthetic sandalwood. The research built on prior work by a team that had found that a receptor cell in the skin called OR2AT4 was sensitive to chemicals in synthetic sandalwood, sandalwood application stimulated growth of keratinocytes. A team of researchers from the University of Manchester has found that applying sandalwood to the scalp can prolong human hair growth. The study findings were published in the journal Nature Communications.


Credit: CC0 Public Domain

The researchers tested their idea by soaking skin samples in a synthetic sandalwood solution for six days and then observing the skin for changes to hair follicles. They report that the treated hair follicles survived longer than those that went untreated, and also produced more growth factor. The researchers verified that it was the synthetic sandalwood interacting with the receptor OR2AT4 that caused the change by blocking the receptors, and noting that doing so inhibited the change from occurring. The researchers note that only the synthetic kind of sandalwood caused the change; the natural variety offered no such benefits. They also announced that clinical trials have begun to determine if curing baldness might be as simple as applying a synthetic sandalwood cream to the scalp and if doing so would be safe.

More Information: Jeremy Chéret et al. “Olfactory receptor OR2AT4 regulates human hair growth”, Nature Communications(2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-05973-0 

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