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Dissolvable Microneedles for Rapid Hair Regeneration

These microneedles containing ceria nanozymes will help relieve oxidative stress and boost angiogenesis in patients with androgenetic alopecia.

Over the years, hair loss has become increasingly common, with over 50 per cent of the general population experiencing hair loss at some point in their lifetime. This can affect one’s body image, social interactions, and psycho-emotional well-being.

Now, a team from the Zhejiang University College of Pharmaceutical Sciences have developed a ceria nanozyme-integrated microneedles patch (Ce-MNs) that can relieve oxidative stress and at the same time, boost angiogenesis to modify the perifollicular microenvironment for androgenetic alopecia treatment.

Androgenetic alopecia, a persistent and progressive disease, is the most common form of hair loss. It is caused by a dysregulation of the hair follicle niche due to insufficient blood flow and/or oxidative stress in the perifollicular microenvironment. Although a few clinical drugs have been developed for androgenetic alopecia, the results have not been satisfactory, with a few reports on side effects as well.

Based on previous studies, it is known that insufficient blood flow to the balding region of androgenetic alopecia patients would mean that not enough nutrients, cytokines, and other bioactive molecules are being delivered to the hair follicles. This limits the transition of hair follicles from the telogen to the anagen phase. Furthermore, oxidative stress overrides anti-oxidant defence mechanisms and triggers cellular apoptosis in the hair follicles. Excessive exposure to reactive oxygen species would also induce the premature senescence of dermal papilla cells and subsequently repress the telogen-to-anagen transition of hair follicles by interfering with androgen signalling and activation signalling.

Building on their previous work with ceria nanozymes, the team led by Li Fangyuan and Gao Jianqing went on to design a patch that integrates both ceria nanozymes and microneedles (Ce-MNs) that can alleviate oxidative stress and promote angiogenesis.

The team’s developed patch is marked by its excellent mechanical strength. When applied to the skin, the patch backing can be removed from the microneedles and the ceria nanozymes can be delivered into the dermis and epidermis directly to sieve out excessive reactive oxygen species with catalase and superoxide-mimic activities, thereby relieving oxidative stress around the hair follicles.

Simultaneously, the administration of microneedles mechanically activates the remodelling of the microvasculature in the skin, promoting the initiation of the anagen phase of hair follicles.

When the team compared their novel patch with minoxidil, a widely used drug for treating androgenetic alopecia, the Ce-MNS could trigger a faster transition of telogen to anagen phase in hair follicles with a lower frequency of administration. Their novel patch was also reported to yield hair of comparable quality as minoxidil. From the results, this Ce-MNs patch has demonstrated the potential of nanozyme-integrated microneedles a safe and effective system to support hair regeneration.

“Nanozymes with dual identities of nanomaterials and enzymes have very unique advantages,” Li said. “In addition to this study, we have already verified its excellent therapeutic effect on drug-induced liver injury, diabetic wound healing, and so on. We hope to continue to make new breakthroughs in the field of nanozymes.” [APBN]

Source: Yuan et al. (2021). Ceria Nanozyme-Integrated Microneedles Reshape the Perifollicular Microenvironment for Androgenetic Alopecia Treatment. ACS nano, 15(8), 13759-13769.