Injectable Keratin Shows Promise for Treating Hair Loss: Korean Study

Injectable Keratin Shows Promise for Treating Hair Loss: Korean Study
Keratin is an important element of strong, healthy hair. Now an injectable form of the protein could help with hair loss.(Shutterstock)
Lisa Bian

A Korean research team has recently confirmed that keratin, the main component of human hair, can be beneficial for hair growth. Human trials of a new, injectable keratin-based treatment for hair loss, developed by Korean bio-venture company KeraMedix, are expected to begin soon.

A joint research team from South Korea’s Kyung Hee University and Konkuk University, together with KeraMedix, announced on Nov. 24 that it has identified the mechanism of keratin in hair growth through animal experiments on mice. The research results were published in the journal Communications Biology on Nov. 19.

Keratin is a protein that helps constitute the outer layer of hair, nails, and skin. Keratin is used in many hair products, frequently derived from the feathers, fur, or wool of various animals. Studies of keratin-containing supplements have shown promise for hair strength and growth.

The Korean researchers analyzed the mechanism by which keratin affects hair growth. Researchers said the study may demonstrate that “keratin is not only a structural protein of hair but also a factor that induces hair regeneration.”

The team studied the effects of keratin on mice, observing that hair growth and length increased in mice that received intradermal injections of the protein.

A study group of mice receiving a single injection of human-hair-derived keratin displayed better hair growth over a 28-day period than untreated mice. Further, the mice that received a keratin injection showed nearly equivalent hair growth to a group of mice receiving daily applications of minoxidil, a common hair loss treatment.

The team reported that extracellular application of keratin leads to condensation—a local increase in cell density—of dermal papilla cells, and the generation of the hair germ from outer root sheath cells. Dermal papilla cells are highly active cells located at the base of hair follicles that play an important role in the hair cycle.

The keratin in KeraMedix’s proposed hair growth treatment would be extracted by a novel process from human hair, some 300,000 tons of which are discarded worldwide each year.

The company plans to conduct human clinical trials starting in 2023.

“For the first time, we have identified a new regulatory mechanism for the transition of a hair cycle from decay to growth,” said Dr. Hwang Yoo-sik, CTO of KeraMedix and a professor at Kyung-Hee University. “We have confirmed that keratin produced from dead cells induced new tissue regeneration.”

Hwang said that if the effect of keratin injection is confirmed in clinical trials, “[we] can expect to develop a new hair loss treatment that is suitable for everyone without significant side effects.”

Lisa Bian, B.Med.Sc., is a healthcare professional holding a Bachelor's Degree in Medical Science. With a rich background, she has accrued over three years of hands-on experience as a Traditional Chinese Medicine physician. In addition to her clinical expertise, she serves as an accomplished writer based in Korea, providing valuable contributions to The Epoch Times. Her insightful pieces cover a range of topics, including integrative medicine, Korean society, culture, and international relations.
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