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The world first research confirmed that changes in the hair growth cycle led to fluctuations in the thickness of the underlying fat layer of the skin – essentially meaning that the skin can regulate fat production.
The research was led by Professor Fiona Watt at King’s College London in collaboration with Professor of Dermatology Rodney Sinclair from the University of Melbourne and Epworth Hospital.
Professor Sinclair said these findings could potentially be used both as a means to replace fat lost in scar tissue or as a localised treatment for obesity.
“The specific chemicals identified in this study could be produced synthetically and used in creams for topical application to the skin to modulate growth of fat beneath the skin.”
“A cream could trim fat specifically where it was applied by ‘pausing’ the production of factors that contribute to fat cell growth.” he said.
The effect of changes in the fat tissue on the synchronised patterns of hair follicle growth has long been established.
“This is the first demonstration that the opposite also holds true in that the skin below the hair follicle can regulate the development of fat,” Professor Sinclair said.
This discovery could also affect future treatment of obesity, male and female pattern baldness and alopecia - male and female baldness - an autoimmune condition that affects one to two per cent of the general population at some stage in their life.
The research was published in PNAS.