(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- New research identifies a small cellular
channel that regulates skin and hair growth and could be targeted with
small-molecule drugs. These drugs would have the potential to treat a
variety of skin conditions, thinning hair or unwanted hair growth.
The key factors that regulate the growth and specialization of skin cells
are transforming growth factor alpha (TGF-alpha) and the receptor for
epidermal growth factor (EGFR). However, experts say these don't make ideal
targets for a drug treatment because they are found throughout the body and
any drug targeting them would have serious side effects.
Another protein found mainly in skin, TRPV3, supercharges the TGF-alpha/EGFR
pathway. In trials with mice, when TRPV3 was knocked out, the mice had a
thinner outer skin layer with a dry, scaly texture, and appeared to be a
less intact, more permeable barrier. Normal mice formed a thick, robust
outer skin barrier with more tightly linked, toughened cells
Researchers believe drugs that stimulate TRPV3 activity may offer a new
approach to treating multiple skin conditions such as burns, bed sores,
eczema, psoriasis, itch, fungal infections and oral mucositis. It could also
be used to develop cosmetic treatments that make the skin more firm and
youthful. Another possibility is TRPV3 would be targeted to create hair
growth or hair removal agents.
Scientists caution that trials are still in the early stages and reducing
TRPV3 activity could curb uncontrolled cell growth in skin cancer. Some skin
cancers could actually be worsened by TRPV3.
Source: Cell, April 16, 2010