Substance from honeybee hives may help with hair loss

Could honeybees help with human hair loss?

A substance from honeybee hives might contain clues for developing a potential new therapy for human baldness: a material called propolis that encouraged hair growth in mice.

Propolis is a resinlike material that honeybees use to seal small gaps in their hives. It works as a physical barrier – but also contains active compounds that fight fungal and bacterial invasions. People from ancient times had noticed propolis’ special properties and used it to treat tumors, inflammation and wounds. Research has also shown that the substance promotes the growth of certain cells involved in hair growth, though no one had yet tested whether that in turn would result in new locks.

When researcher Ken Kobayashi and colleagues tested propolis on mice that had been shaved or waxed, the mice that received the treatment regrew their fur faster than those that didn’t. The scientists also noticed that after the topical application, the number of special cells involved in the process of growing hair increased. Although they tried the material on mice that could grow fur, rather than balding mice, the researchers note that hair loss conditions often result from abnormal inflammation. Propolis contains anti-inflammatory compounds, so they expect it could help treat balding conditions.

They add that further testing is needed to see whether the beehive material affects human hair follicles. The study appears in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry .

Tweaked asphalt great for capturing carbon dioxide

The best material to keep carbon dioxide from natural gas wells from fouling the atmosphere may be a derivative of asphalt, say scientists at Houston’s Rice University.

The lab of chemist James Tour followed up on last year’s discovery of a “green” carbon-capture material for wellhead sequestration. The result: an even better compound that could be made cheaply – and in a few steps – from asphalt, the black, petroleum-based substance primarily used to build roads.

The best version of several made by the Tour lab is a powder that holds 114 percent of its weight in carbon dioxide. Like last year’s material, these new porous carbon materials capture carbon dioxide molecules at room temperature while letting the desired methane natural gas flow through.

The research appears in the journal Applied Materials and Interfaces.

Some types of memory loss linked to gas in brain

Inflammation plays a role in learning loss and memory loss that can result from brain injury or disease, and researchers at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University have found out why: Neurons may be suffering from too much gas and too little food.

The team, led by neuroscientist Nilkantha Sen, found that the immune cell interleukin 1B prompts production of the short-lived gas hydrogen sulfide, which affects brain cells’ ability to use food and glucose and ultimately results in the destruction of synapses, where the cells connect so information can be stored and memories made.

“If this protein is being chewed up, then neuron-to-neuron communication is disrupted,” Sen said. “If it continues to happen in your brain or in my brain, our memory will be shut down.”

Sen was referring to damage to the protein PSD95, which is essential to the framework of the synapses that connect brain cells and which are modified by the gas hydrogen sulfide. Loss of PSD95 already is implicated in dementia as well as depression, anxiety disorders, and addiction.

The study was published in the journal Molecular Cell.