As we age, we may find that the soft, full hair we have taken for granted in our younger days becomes thinner and more brittle. Hair grows less than half an inch every month, so the hair on your head has experienced years of damage and sun exposure from the elements. It also is affected by naturally diminishing hormonal levels which play a role in hair growth, texture, and greying. Androgenetic alopecia, also known as male baldness, is the most common type of hair loss in both men and women.
What is PTD-DBM?
PTD-DBM which is short for Protein transduction domain (PTD)-Dvl-binding motif (DBM).
In simple terms, it is a follicle regeneration treatment. More specifically, it is a peptide-based topical scalp treatment which inhibits the follicle shrinking action of the body’s hormones and enzymes effectively rescuing the follicle at a stem cell level. Treatment with PTD-DBM both prevents hair loss and promotes the growth of new hair follicles.
Many researchers believe that WNT signaling pathways inside of a cell are responsible for hair follicle development and hair regeneration in humans. These pathways are usually made of proteins and they communicate important cell activity and growth signals to various cells throughout our body.
The Discovery of PTD-DBM
Professor Choi Kang-yeol of Yonsei University in South Korea and a team of researchers discovered a protein responsible for hair loss in the condition known as androgenetic alopecia. This protein controls hair growth and the researcher developed a new substance that promotes hair regeneration by controlling the function of the protein.
The responsible protein is called CXXC-type zinc finger protein 5 (CXXC5), which acts as a negative regulator on the Wnt/β-catenin pathway, which is linked to hair regeneration and wound healing. When CXXC5 binds with a protein called the Dishevelled protein, it prevents follicle development and hair regrowth. This is not good for those of us wanting to keep our hair. This led to the development of a new biochemical substance, called PTD-DBM, which interferes with this binding process.
The positive effect of PTD-DBM on hair regeneration is shown in human hair follicle dermal papilla cells. After seeing the success with PTD-DBM, additional research was gathered to make the ideal treatment for hair regrowth a three-prong approach.
- Wound-induced hair neogenesis, aka microneedling. This treatment for androgenetic alopecia involves rolling very very fine needles over the skin to puncture it. The devices are called dermarollers. They are hand held and rolled over the treatment area to cause a “wound” and help create follicle generation. Microneedling is common in treating the skin and has also been known to increases the production of collagen and other healing factors by causing slight trauma to the skin.
- CXXC5 targeting with PTD-DBM.
- Valproic acid. Usually used to treat seizures, bipolar, schizophrenia and migraines. In this instance it was used topically to activate the Wnt/β-catenin pathway.
So, there's a threefold action to the treatment. The “wounds” from microneedling induce the generation of follicles; the valproic acid stimulates the cell pathway linked to the development of follicles; and the PTD-DBM prevents CXXC5 from interfering with the follicular development process. When the scientists combined these three processes, the hair grew back even quicker.
Both PTD-DBM and Valproic acid come in topical spray bottles and are applied to the scalp daily. Dermarollers for microneedling are used 1-2 times per week.
Soung-HoonLee, Seol HwaSeo, Dong-HwanLee, Long-QuanPi, Won-SooLee, Kang-YellChoi. Targeting of CXXC5 by a Competing Peptide Stimulates Hair Regrowth and Wound-Induced Hair Neogenesis. Journal of Investigative DermatologyVolume 137, Issue 11, November 2017, Pages 2260-2269
Soung-Hoon Lee, Mi-Yeon Kim, Hyun-Yi Kim, Young-Mi Lee, Heesu Kim, Kyoung Ae Nam, Mi Ryung Roh, Do Sik Min, Kee Yang Chung, Kang-Yell Choi. The Dishevelled-binding protein CXXC5 negatively regulates cutaneous wound healing. J Exp Med. 2015 Jun 29; 212(7): 1061–1080. doi: 10.1084/jem.20141601
Lee SH, Yoon J, Shin SH, Zahoor M, Kim HJ, Park PJ, Park WS, Min do S, Kim HY, Choi KY. Valproic acid induces hair regeneration in murine model and activates alkaline phosphatase activity in human dermal papilla cells. PLoS One. 2012;7(4):e34152. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0034152.
Jo SJ1, Choi SJ, Yoon SY, Lee JY, Park WS, Park PJ, Kim KH, Eun HC, Kwon O. Valproic acid promotes human hair growth in in vitro culture model. J Dermatol Sci. 2013 Oct;72(1):16-24. doi: 10.1016/j.jdermsci.2013.05.007.