Scientists in Japan have identified a chemical in McDonald’s french fries that can help mice grow hair, and it could mean big things for balding humans. Using big word dimethylpolysiloxane, a team of stem cell researchers from Yokohama National University was able to take a hairless mouse and make him fuzzy.
But before you go fishtailing out of your driveway and tearing through town to go buy a bag of those savory spuds to restore your thinning mop, understand this: gorging yourself on McDonald’s french fries won’t cure you of anything but your tight bod. The science is a little more technical than that.
Synthesized oxygen-permeable dimethylpolysiloxane (PDMS) is a silicone that McDonalds adds to their fries to keep cooking oil from foaming. Too many employees had to be scraped off the fryer floor after oils frothed up and reduced them to scorched puddles of flesh. So, to reduce casualties (and mitigate liability), Maccy D’s started adding a dash of silicone to their fryer oil.
Well, as it turns out, that silicon — which has become a staple of the McDonald’s french fry experience — might also be the key to curing baldness.
Hair follicle germs (HFG’s) are the cells that power follicle growth and development. They are the fountain of youth when it comes to re-growing hair naturally, and the quest for these mysterious little microbes was a long one; many tried and many failed along the way, but finally, at long last, it might be over. According to a study published on February 1, this team of researchers in Japan was successfully able to produce HFG’s using DPMS, the french fry silicon — something that had never been done before.
It’s a mouthful, but still not overly complicated.
Professor Junji Fukunda, the corresponding officer for the paper, described the effects of planting these synthesized HFG’s on the mice, “These self-sorted hair follicle germs (HFGs) were shown to be capable of efficient hair-follicle and shaft generation upon injection into the backs of nude mice,” he said in the paper.
The group further tested the applicability of their method, by compiling thousands of HFG’s onto an “HFG chip” that they could then transplant onto different parts of the mouse’s body, to generate hair in localized areas. And it worked. The “nude mice” grew healthy mouse hair on their backs and heads, where the implant had been embedded.
So, there’s french fry silicone that can produce follicle germs, which can be reduced to HFG chips and jammed into mouse flesh to grow mouse hair. This is sci-fi science happening in real time. But it still has to be decades before they figure out how these HFG chips might work on human beings … right?
Wrong, according to Fukunda. “This simple method is very robust and promising,” he said, “In fact, we have preliminary data that suggests human HFG formation using human keratinocytes and dermal papilla cells.”
So perhaps the cure to human baldness isn’t so far off after all. Who could have ever guessed it was in the french fries all along?