JUN 08, 2024 10:00 AM PDT

Cutting edge approach to using T cells for hair loss

WRITTEN BY: Ryan Vingum

A team of researchers with Brigham and Women’s Hospital have designed a novel microneedle patch that is designed to painlessly deliver immunotherapy treatment to people living with hair loss caused by alopecia areata. The team’s work is described in a recent article published in Advanced Materials.

As an autoimmune condition, alopecia areata can cause hair loss, among other symptoms, largely due to the way the body responds to hair follicles. The body perceives them as threats and then sends T cells to attack them. Normally, the body would have a way of preventing this kind of “overreaction,” by deploying regulator T cells to prevent damage to hair follicles. Many common treatments for alopecia areata include immunosuppressants, which are designed to calm the activity of T cells that attack hair follicles. The unintended consequence, however, is that these treatments also turn of regulator T cells in the process of treatment, on top of weakening the immune system overall and leaving people open to infection.

Rather than tacking a global approach to immunosuppressants, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital aimed for a more local approach. The goal is to stimulate regulator T cell activity at the site of hair loss, rather than through an immune treatment that targets the entire body.

The answer: a microneedle patch. The patch can deliver immunotherapy drugs local to the affected area. It’s designed to work more effectively than topical creams, but it is also designed to be painless, despite administering drugs under the skin.

The team’s microneedle patch appears to work, at least in animal models so far. The team loaded their patch with IL-2 and CCL22, both of which have been shown to grow the presence of regulator T cells, and administered it to animal models. They found that applying IL-2 and CCL22 10 times over 3 weeks lead to hair growth.

The researchers hope to move to clinical testing soon.

Sources: EurekAlert!; Advanced Materials

About the Author
Master's (MA/MS/Other)
Science writer and editor, with a focus on simplifying complex information about health, medicine, technology, and clinical drug development for a general audience.
You May Also Like
Loading Comments...