You wouldn't expect a McDonald's Happy Meal to be a cure for anything, unless you're chronically underweight. However, a new study has found that a key ingredient in making the meals might be better used to cure baldness.
Researchers at Yokohama National University found that they could regrow hair in mice (not usually known for their baldness) using a chemical used in the cooking of McDonald's fries. Using the chemical, the team mass-produced "hair follicle germs" (HFG) that could lead to a new, more effective treatment for hair-loss and male-pattern baldness.
HFGs are cells that fuel follicle development, and have been referred to as the "Holy Grail" of hair-loss research. The germs, responsible for hair growth, have never been regenerated before, until this research team achieved just that.
The research, published in the journal Biomaterials, saw the scientists create a new method to mass-produce 5000 HFGs simultaneously. When transplanted into the bald mice, the hair growth was successful, showing signs of "efficient hair-follicle and shaft generation". The hair continued to grow in the mice.
The biggest breakthrough of the study was the ability to mass-produce HFGs.
"The key for the mass production of HFGs was a choice of substrate materials for culture vessel," author Junji Fukuda of Yokohama National University said in a statement. "We used oxygen-permeable dimethylpolysiloxane (PDMS) at the bottom of culture vessel, and it worked very well."
Dimethylpolysiloxane is added to the oil in McDonalds to prevent the oil from foaming up and spitting at employees, for their safety. If it were to land on you, it would cause burns, not cure your baldness. However, in this study it was chosen because oxygen can easily pass through the chemical.
You won't be shocked to learn that the end goal here wasn't to cure mouse baldness. The team hope the method could soon be used in humans to cure baldness too.
"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," Fukuda added. "In fact, we have preliminary data that suggests human HFG formation using human keratinocytes and dermal papilla cells."