Scientists in Japan have found that a cure for baldness could be found using a chemical that is also used to cook McDonald's fries.
Dimethylpolysiloxane, which is found in silicone, is added to oil to cook french fries at the fast-food restaurant. Researchers at Yokohama National University (YNU) in Japan released a study that found using this chemical is able to mass produce hair follicles in mice.
Initial tests suggest this "simple" method could also be used to treat hair loss in humans, they say. The chemical is usually added to fries to prevent the hot oil from bubbling up and spitting out while it cooks.
In a paper published in the journal Biomaterials the scientists reported they were able to generate on a large scale hair follicle germs (HFG) - up to 5,000 simultaneously - which is "one of the more challenging obstacles to hair regenerative medicine''.
''We demonstrated that the integrity of the oxygen supply through the bottom of the silicone chip was crucial to enabling both hair follicle germ (HFG) formation and subsequent hair shaft generation,'' YNU Prof Junji Fukuda, who conducted the study, said.
The germs were then transplanted into bald mice that began to sprout new fur within days.
The reason for the growth, scientists added, was that the chemical allows oxygen to easily pass through it, encouraging hair growth.
According to Prof Fukuda, "The key for the mass production of HFGs was a choice of substrate materials for culture vessel. We used oxygen-permeable dimethylpolysiloxane (PDMS) at the bottom of culture vessel, and it worked very well."
While PDMS is good for growing experimental hair, the chemical does not on its own trigger hair growth. So eating more McDonald's fries probably won't make you less bald.
Fukuda's team is hopeful that this method can eventually be used to treat human hair loss.
Fukuda added, "This simple method is very robust and promising. We hope that this technique will improve human hair regenerative therapy to treat hair loss such as androgenic alopecia.
"In fact, we have preliminary data that suggests human HFG formation using human keratinocytes and dermal papilla cells."