SCUBE3: New Molecule Discovered That Strongly Stimulates Hair Growth

Hair Growth

A team at the University of California, Irvine, has identified a signaling molecule called SCUBE3 that potently stimulates hair growth.

SCUBE3 has been found to be a potential therapeutic option for treating androgenetic alopecia.

A signaling molecule known as SCUBE3, which was discovered by researchers at the University of California, Irvine, has the potential to cure androgenetic alopecia, a prevalent type of hair loss in both women and men.

The research, which was recently published in the journal Developmental Cell, uncovered the precise mechanism by which the dermal papilla cells, specialized signal-producing fibroblasts found at the bottom of each hair follicle, encourage new development. Although the critical role dermal papilla cells play in regulating hair growth is widely established, the genetic basis of the activating chemicals involved is little understood.

Maksim Plikus

“There is a strong need for new, effective hair loss medicines, and naturally occurring compounds that are normally used by the dermal papilla cells present ideal next-generation candidates for treatment,” says Maksim Plikus, Ph.D., UCI professor of developmental and cell biology and the study’s corresponding author. Credit: Julie Kennedy / UCI

“At different times during the hair follicle life cycle, the very same dermal papilla cells can send signals that either keep follicles dormant or trigger new hair growth,” said Maksim Plikus, Ph.D., UCI professor of developmental & cell biology and the study’s corresponding author. “We revealed that the SCUBE3 signaling molecule, which dermal papilla cells produce naturally, is the messenger used to ‘tell’ the neighboring hair stem cells to start dividing, which heralds the onset of new hair growth.”

For mice and humans to effectively develop hair, the dermal papilla cells must produce activating chemicals. Dermal papilla cells malfunction in people with androgenetic alopecia, drastically lowering the typically plentiful activating chemicals. For this study, a mouse model with excessive hair and hyperactivated dermal papilla cells was created. This model will help researchers learn more about the regulation of hair growth.

“Studying this mouse model permitted us to identify SCUBE3 as the previously unknown signaling molecule that can drive excessive hair growth,” said co-first author Yingzi Liu, a UCI postdoctoral researcher in developmental & cell biology.

Further tests validated that SCUBE3 activates hair growth in human follicles. Researchers microinjected SCUBE3 into mouse skin in which human scalp follicles had been transplanted, inducing new growth in both the dormant human and surrounding mouse follicles.


Several large human hair follicles and numerous small mouse hair follicles are shown growing in response to treatment with SCUBE3 protein. Credit: Nitish Shettigar, Plikus lab

“These experiments provide proof-of-principle data that SCUBE3 or derived molecules can be a promising therapeutic for hair loss,” said co-first author Christian Guerrero-Juarez, a UCI postdoctoral researcher in mathematics.

Currently, there are two medications on the market – finasteride and minoxidil – that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration for androgenetic alopecia. Finasteride is only approved for use in men. Both drugs are not universally effective and need to be taken daily to maintain their clinical effect.

“There is a strong need for new, effective hair loss medicines, and naturally occurring compounds that are normally used by the dermal papilla cells present ideal next-generation candidates for treatment,” Plikus said. “Our test in the human hair transplant model validates the preclinical potential of SCUBE3.”

Reference: “Hedgehog signaling reprograms hair follicle niche fibroblasts to a hyper-activated state” by Yingzi Liu, Christian F. Guerrero-Juarez, Fei Xiao, Nitish Udupi Shettigar, Raul Ramos, Chen-Hsiang Kuan, Yuh-Charn Lin, Luis de Jesus Martinez Lomeli, Jung Min Park, Ji Won Oh, Ruiqi Liu, Sung-Jan Lin, Marco Tartaglia, Ruey-Bing Yang, Zhengquan Yu, Qing Nie, Ji Li and Maksim V. Plikus, 30 June 2022, Developmental Cell.
DOI: 10.1016/j.devcel.2022.06.005

UCI has filed a provisional patent application for the use of SCUBE3 and its related molecular compounds for hair growth stimulation. Further research will be conducted in the Plikus lab and at Amplifica Holdings Group Inc., a biotechnology company co-founded by Plikus.

The study team included health professionals and academics from UCI, San Diego, China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan.

The study was funded by the LEO Foundation, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the W.M. Keck Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the NIH/National Institutes of Health, the Simons Foundation, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Training Program of the Major Research Plan of the National Natural Science Foundation of China, and the Ministry of Science and Technology of Taiwan.

49 Comments on "SCUBE3: New Molecule Discovered That Strongly Stimulates Hair Growth"

  1. New molecule that helps people: first things first – patent it so that a small number of people can profit greatly from it at the expense of the majority! Patents need two urgent changes:

    1. in the modern world, they need to be greatly shortened. 3-5 years is more than enough

    2. nobody should be allowed to patent a compound that people make in their own bodies

  2. If funding was provided by the the National Science Foundation (of the US), then by law the findings/formulas/devices cannot be proivately patented.

    Prove me wrong.

  3. The guy in the video at the top of the article clearly has a fully healthy head of hair. Seems pretty bogus to me.

    • Absolutely. He has a perfectly formed buzz cut and the time-lapse merely shows it growing back out. Brazenly bogus claim.

  4. Here here. First name I see and recognize is Zuckerberg. Must they own everything?

    • The Zuckerberg Chan Initiative is a philanthropic organization funded by Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Patricia Chan.

  5. First name I see and recognize is Zuckerberg. Must they own everything?

  6. Abigail McCommas | August 14, 2022 at 7:39 am | Reply

    I would love to know the effects of PRP on hair activation. I don’t believe it’s as available as treatment because of price, but it’s not daily and produces wonderful results. There’s other options/serums also to be injected or microneedled in the scalp. This can be done in tandem with current topicals. So when I say I would like to know, I mean conversely… the curiosity to regulate hair stopping. Sincerely, your fuzzy friend

  7. And once it’s available to the public, we can purchase it for an overly high price, monthly subscriptions etc… and pretty much not be able To afford it. Isn’t that wonderful.

  8. How about figuring out how to locally shut off production of SCUBE3 as well for women with PCOS and other conditions as well as trans women and non-binary people to get rid of facial hair?

  9. Grace X, funding by a charitable foundation in the pursuit of knowledge is quite different than one person behind that foundation owning that idea. This is now paying it forward than scooping up profits.

  10. Every couple of years you see these articles, then you hear nothing.
    There will never be a cure!

    • The Zuckerberg Chan Initiative is a philanthropic organization funded by Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Patricia Chan

  11. I’m getting major “latisse” vibes from this. That had major and permanent disfiguring side effects that no one paid attention to until it had already been patented and released to market. Will this be similarly hiding a horrific side effect? Also, patenting biologically occuring chemical compounds shouldn’t be legal. They don’t want to help people, they just want money.

  12. Keep my wife’s condition off yo f&cking ARTICLE

  13. I am not a scientist or doctor or anything else like that but the human body has its own ability to stop peoples hair from falling out and to regrow and even has the ability to regrow hair thicker longer in in places that you don’t even want it to grow up and the reason that I know this is because of one occasion about 25 years ago my left hand was cut wide open from the middle of my ring finger and my pinky straight across the top of my hand almost to my thumb knuckle and it was actually filleted open only the skin in the healing process after getting stitched back up a couple of weeks later my hand started growing hair like a wolf man growing so much being thicker and longer and spreading across my hand in more volume and in places that he didn’t ever grow before I actually had to cut the hair with a pair of scissors because it was getting so long I asked the doctor why this was happening and he said that the traumatic experience to my hand I sent my body into a survival mode and sent all of its soldiers to that hand into that wound to help heal it and protect it from bacteria and infection that is why the hair was growing so sick in so long and spreading around my wound on my hand we had never been before because it was protecting its own self and healing its own self and fighting off bacteria it’s own self find out what properties and what proteins are that the human body produces naturally to cause this and that’s exactly how baldness in women and men can be stopped whether it be naturally or or due to another illness or even an outside cause like chemotherapy the body can heal itself and hair loss is a wound to the body that it has its own Natural serum to accomplish This. Another words there’s no need for man-made chemicals or that you would apply to your place of hair loss and end up having to indefinitely take this same medication that was man-made for the rest of your life because if you did stop taking it all of the hair that you just regroup including all of the hair that is being subjected to this chemical will all fall out.

  14. Punctuation is your friend, John.

  15. Michael Patrick Connelly | August 14, 2022 at 6:38 pm | Reply

    Great! My ears and back and inner nose and pubic Himalayas thank the scientists. So do the boys at Harry’s Razors!

  16. Soon available in a cookie form. Called Scube snacks.

  17. I have been suffering from alopecia totalis for 8 years. My hair was 3 feet long thick wavy and white, then it all fell out in 3 months time. I went through a year of cortisone injections to my scalp. It help a tiny bit. The hair I have now is very thin and it has only grown about 8 inches. The front is so thin I only wear headscarves in public. This would be a godsend for my self esteem not to mention getting to shed the damn headscarves!

    • Ask a rheumatologist for a sample bottle of Xeljanz or Rinvoq. Alopecia Totalis is likely autoimmune, and those medications inhibit enzymes that attack your body. Pfizer and AbbVie reps hand out sample bottles to rheumatologists and medical (not cosmetic) dermatologists like Halloween candy. They’re off-label and not covered by insurance for AT, but maybe your doc will “find” (wink, wink) that you have RA or PsA as well, which insurance will pay for.

  18. Agerico campos | August 14, 2022 at 9:29 pm | Reply

    I hope that really work and the side efect not be other than help you grow hair and then give you erectal disfuntion I mint you get hair and then loose you manhood

  19. Finesteride is a very dangerous drug with serious side effects that can ruin sex drive (and even seems able in some cases to shrink penile tissue) for years or sometimes it seems for life. The company knows it but won’t stop selling it. Do your research before trying this as a solution to hair loss.

  20. I would like a gallon, please.

  21. How do I get these for my sons…young but balding

  22. Felicity Mabilo | August 15, 2022 at 2:44 am | Reply

    How can I grow my I always cover my head because of bad hairlosss

  23. Investigate Ebola or covid you learned asinine person. No one cares about baldness when you are in the coffin.

  24. Investigate Ebola or covid you learned asinine scientist fool. No one cares about baldness when you are in the coffin.

  25. Hmm. I thought you can’t patent naturally occurring substances. But may be the patent is for use. But then again a new intended use does not make it patentable.
    They may or may not be able to get a patent for it.

  26. Weird that participants in the study are scientists from China…AND Taiwan. F*** the Chinese lose their s**t at the mear mention of Taiwan.

  27. >2. nobody should be allowed to patent a compound that people make in their own bodies

    Then there should be an alternative document that gives a time-limited
    sole right to profit from the results of research and investment, in which case the law would decide this will not be deemed as ownership of nature (the thought of which sets some people off)

  28. Sherri A. Turner MD JD | August 15, 2022 at 1:39 pm | Reply

    Both drugs are not universally effective is poor usage. It is ambiguous at best and erroneous at worst. You are stating that one drug is effective while the other is not. Correct phrasing is that neither drug is universally effective. Basic proper English has become a victim of technology.

  29. And did they mention that this same molecule also stimulates lung cancer cells?

  30. “Signal peptide-CUB-EGF-like domain-containing protein 3 (SCUBE3) is a secreted glycoprotein that is overexpressed in lung cancer tumor tissues and is correlated with the invasive ability in a lung cancer cell line model. These observations suggest that SCUBE3 may have a role in lung cancer progression.” (Wu, et al. 2011)

    Wu, YY., Peck, K., Chang, YL. et al. SCUBE3 is an endogenous TGF-β receptor ligand and regulates the epithelial-mesenchymal transition in lung cancer. Oncogene 30, 3682–3693 (2011).

  31. Killian Justice | August 16, 2022 at 1:52 pm | Reply

    Some people in the comments seem to think this is ready for human trials. No human trials have been done yet.
    Once more animal trials are done then they will seek approval for human trials if it is safe to proceed.
    I agree that this should only get a limited time to solely profit from their research, consisting of 3 to 5 years after approval for human use. It will be years before this is ready for human use though. As a balding male, I want it sooner if safe, but I understand the need for rigorous safety trials.

  32. Who cares. Im sexy with no hair. This popped up on google, of course i clicked. Its interesting. I understand the emotional amd psychological stress hair loss causes. Mine fell out at 20. But i didnt care, shaved it and kept livimg my life. If someone didnt like me bald, their loss. Didnt stop me from getting a smoking hot wife, six figure job, multiple degrees, and accomplishing a multitude of goals. I focused on my physique because it was my passion. If you are worried about gow you look, first step get on the scale. Overweight (probably) stop eating crap. Scrawny physique, well if you dont like it eat better and lift. So much we can easily control yet people aim for hair? Its dumb. Teeth i understand, hair i do not. People spens millions on hair replacement. Wouldnt you rather have a boat or sweet car or i dont know more retirement? Hair…gimme a break. Embrace the dome. Be confident in other areas or create that confidence other ways. Moreover, this is science? Why arent they dedicating these resources and efforts to cancer? Seems less selfish and vain to me. But what do i know, im just a baldy, jacked 40yo.

  33. Simple solution to haor loss-
    Locate and tweak the gene that causes wild hair growth in/on my ears, eyebrows, and in my nose. As I get older the top goes and the random grows.

  34. Rapture Stiltskin | August 16, 2022 at 3:38 pm | Reply

    “2. nobody should be allowed to patent a compound that people make in their own bodies”

    Insulin would like to have a word with you.

  35. bigrobtheactor | August 21, 2022 at 2:44 pm | Reply

    She asks me why… I’m just a hairy guy…

  36. Some people here seem to think that scientists should spend years educating themselves and work for nothing to “help” humans by discovering medicines to improve disease outcomes.

    Likewise for the pharmaceutical companies who they believe are evil for wanting to make a lot of money.

    I say go on make some money and bring us effective treatments for baldness for cancer for whatever. The market will pay what it’s prepared to pay.

    Pharmaceutical companies have to cover the losses for all the hard work trying to find treatments that end up a failure.

    So I have no problem paying someone for their work. The higher salary scientists make the more talent will be drawn into the field. I say bring it on charge what you can. If it’s really important to human health governments will step in to subsidise medicines. Here in Australia we have seen this happen with many medicines including the marvelous cancer immunotherapy drugs that have heralded the future of cancer care.

    As for the guy who said forget about hair loss and shave your head. Well not everyone looks so good shaved plus there’s nothing wrong with wanting to wear a full set of hair which also protects your scalp skin from developing skin cancer.

    I’ve had two fue transplants and it doesn’t cost that much. An average new car costs more and you’ll get way more satisfaction out of a full head of hair.

    I look good with my head shaved or with a full head of hair and I have the option.

  37. I am eagerly waiting for the positive results as I am one of the hair loss patients. Pls help. Loosing hair makes me loose my confidence.

  38. How can I be a patient in this study in SCUBE3: New Molecule That Strongly Stimulates Hair Growth? I am willing to test it on me thank You

  39. Where can I get this from…how much diss it cost???

  40. When will this become avaible…

  41. when will this be ready for use?

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