Meeting Report: The 15th Annual Meeting of the European Hair Research Society
The 15th Annual Meeting of the European Hair Research Society (EHRS), organized by Abraham Zlotogorski (Jerusalem, Israel), was held during July 6-9, 2011, in Jerusalem, Israel. A total of 485 participants from 32 European and non-European countries attended the meeting, bringing together researchers, physicians, other medical personnel, and industry representatives to an assembly of sharing of ideas and discussion at the wonderful venue of Ramada Hotel in Jerusalem. The aim of the meeting was to focus on the recent advances in hair research, and to mark the new challenges that lie ahead. Plenary lectures were given by leading experts in hair research from prominent institutions from all over the globe, including Europe, United States, Japan, Korea, India, China, Australia, Brazil, and more. Their presence allowed the meeting participants to interact with prominent investigators in the hair research field. The meeting was supported by several industrial companies, with special contribution by Johnson and Johnson, MSD, and Unilever.
The scientific program of the meeting combined lectures on basic hair research with more clinically oriented lectures on diagnosis and treatment of hair disorders. There were five major themes covered by the conference: Androgenetic alopecia (AGA), genotrichoses, cicatricial alopecia and stem cells, alopecia areata (AA), and hair removal and restoration techniques.
Prior to the official start of the meeting, a “pre-congress hair course” took place, attracting a large number of general dermatologists, who came to listen to state-of-the-art lectures on basic topics in the hair field, including hair anatomy and pathology, genetics, scalp dermatitis and psoriasis, and infections of the scalp. This year, special emphasis put on addressing trichoscopy, an emerging noninvasive diagnostic tool. A special session was dedicated to this topic, bringing together the leading experts in this field. Lidia Rudnicka (Warsaw, Poland) gave a very thorough review on the dermoscopic patterns of norm follicles and common hair disorders, leading to the conclusion that trichoscopy alone can allow accurate diagnosis of most hair disorders. This was followed by a lecture by Antonella Tosti (Miami, FL, USA), who gave an overview on the specific findings on hair shaft disorders. Sundaram Murugusundram (Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India) showed that dermoscopy of plucked hair follicles can replace microscopic
Meeting Report: The 15th Annual Meeting of the European Hair Research Society evaluation of hair, significantly shortening examining time in hair clinics. Alon Scope (Ramat Gan, Israel) presented the typical dermoscopic findings of pigmented lesions on the scalp, demonstrating that benign lesions can be easily distinguished from melanoma or other skin cancers with the aid of the dermoscope.
The opening ceremony was held in the extraordinary atmosphere of the Israel Museum, following an enriching guided tour of its archeological treasures. This year, the opening lecture was given by Yoel Donchin (Jerusalem, Israel), who gave a stimulating talk on the role of hair in movies and art. The lecture was accompanied by a large selection of movie extracts, which emphasized the important role that hair has played in our culture for years (Samson and Delilah and the movie “Hair” are only two examples).
Three sessions were devoted to this important topic, with lectures given by most renowned researchers in this field. For a better understanding of the role of androgens in causing AGA, Valerie Rendall (Bradford, UK) reviewed the process by which androgens change the transcription of paracrine factors, which in turn alter the expression of key mediators which in the end lead to a reduced hair follicle activity. Three lectures addressed the role of genetics in the development of this condition. Stephanie Heilmann (Bonn, Germany) described the first genome-wide survey of copy number variants in AGA. This survey confirmed the role of copy number variants in AGA, and also suggested the involvement of microduplication in 22q11.23, a region in the genome that has not previously been linked to AGA. In parallel to this lecture, Anastasia Mareeva (Moscow, Russian Federation) and Nikolleta Nagy (Szeged, Hungary) presented studies that showed an association, respectively, between androgen receptor gene polymorphism and adenomatosis polyposis coli down-regulated gene polymorphism and AGA. Taken together, it is evident that research is getting closer to finding the genetic basis for the development of AGA. Nevertheless, Taro Koyama (Tokyo, Japan) reported, by analyzing 11 pairs of identical twins with AGA, that environmental factors may still play an important role in the pathogenesis of the condition.
Three lectures were devoted to new treatment strategies for AGA. Bimatoprost, a prostamide F2a analog, was studied for its impact on hair follicles in culture by Karzan G. Khidhir (Bradford, UK). Bimatoprost stimulated scalp hair follicle growth by acting directly on receptors within the dermal papilla, thus offering a new treatment modality for AGA. Reyk Horland (Berlin, Germany) and colleagues succeeded in producing human microfollicles in vitro from isolated hair follicle cells, which had the characteristics of human vellus-like hair follicles. Astonishingly, these microfollicles could produce a hair shaft-like fiber, a technique that in the future may possibly be used for treating AGA. However, not all suggested new treatments for AGA are still distant from materialization, as Ademir Carvalho Leite Junior (Sao Paulo, Brazil) has reported that simple measures such as meditation can lead to better results in treating AGA. A new predictive test for AGA was developed by Felix Brockschmidt (Bonn, Germany), using information on the androgenic receptor gene and 20p11 associations. This test was reported to have a better risk prediction than current available tests.
Three sessions were also dedicated to review the fascinating advancements in AA. The first talk was given by Amos Gilhar (Haifa, Israel), who systematically reviewed the evidence which has been accumulated to form the immune-privilege collapse concept of AA pathogenesis. He has also provided valuable updates on new findings on the role of the immune system in the formation of this disease, and summarized them by suggesting that AA may serve as a valuable model for investigating the induction and pathogenesis of other autoimmune diseases. The role of genetics in the development of AA has recently gained much support, and the genetic concept of AA was further strengthened by the new study presented by Hans Hennies (Cologne, Germany), who performed a genome-wide association study with a family-based approach. This method increases the power of identifying susceptibility loci, and indeed a strong association was found with the HLA region on chromosome 6p. Angela Christiano (New York, USA)
Meeting Report: The 15th Annual Meeting of the European Hair Research Society reviewed the available information on the genes that are involved in AA, and demonstrated how this knowledge can potentially be translated into treatment modalities. For example, the CTLA4 gene has been blamed to be involved in the pathogenesis of AA. Since this gene has been previously suggested to take part in the etiology of other auto-immune diseases, there are already available antibodies directed the protein product of this gene. Therefore, clinical trials are already underway to evaluate the possible utilization of this treatment for AA. Rodney Sinclair (Melbourne, Australia) provided an up-to-date look on the available treatment modalities for AA. He concluded that although many new treatment options have been suggested recently, corticosteroids remain the most reliable treatment. The AA sessions were concluded with an intriguing “Round Table” session, led by Abraham Zlotogorski (Jerusalem, Israel), challenged the round table participants (Amos Gilhar, Angela Christiano, Rodney Sinclair, and Desmond Tobin) with provocative questions confronting the traditional paradigms of AA. This stimulated an exciting discussion between the round table participants and the audience.
Ciciatricial Alopecia and Stem Cells
The biology of the hair follicle stem cells is still a mystery, although recent advances have started to unveil some of the mechanisms controlling their function. One such controlling mechanism, the hormonal regulation of hair follicle stem cells, was presented by Stephan Tiede (Luebeck, Germany). Of particular interest is the fact that these stem cells are not only influenced by the classical steroid hormones, but also by peptide neurohormones.
Cicatricial alopecia is a complex group of diseases, which are characterized by the permanent loss of hair follicles. A comprehensive talk by Ralf Trueeb (Zurich, Switzerland) reviewed the different scarring conditions, and determined the clinicopathologic characteristics of each disease. He had also presented recent data which by utilizing gene expression profiles suggested that lichen planopilar of Brocq are biologically distinct entities. David Whiting (Dallas, TX, USA) analyzed the hitopathological and clinical findings in 70 patients suffering from frontal fibrosing alopecia, a scarring alopecia which shows a dramatic increase in incidence. This analysis confirmed that frontal fibrosing alopecia is associated with lichen planopilaris, and implies that it is presumably an autoimmune process. The session was concluded by Adriana Rakowska (Warsaw, Poland), who showed that trichoscopy can be a reliable method for diagnosing scarring alopecia conditions.
Michael Rendl (New York, NY, USA) presented a novel gene targeting system in transgenic mice, which allows the knocking out of genes specifically in the dermal papilla progenies and later in the mesenchyme. This novel system allows investigating the role of different genes expressed in the dermal papilla cells in hair formation and cycling. Ulrike Blume-Peytavi (Berlin, Germany) summarized the new diagnostic and treatment modalities for AGA and hirsutism. Special emphasis was placed on the holistic approach for hair disorders, which includes assessing the quality of life of patients and providing hair transplantation and esthetic tips. Many important advancements were achieved last year in basic science research in hair biology. Angela Christiano reviewed some of the most important findings in the different aspects of hair biology – genetics, stem cells, mouse models, and clinical aspects. Patrick Yesudian (Tamil Nadu, India) discussed the imperative aspect of ethics in trichology, and suggested that a set of ethical codes should be adopted by hair researchers.
John Ebling Lecture
Each year, the EHRS sponsors a lecture in memory of the late John Ebling. The honor is awarded to leading scientists in hair research for their exceptional achievements in this field, and is being given annually since 1993. Professor Desmond Tobin (Bradford, UK) was selected to give this year’s lecture, and the topic of his lecture was “The hair follicle melanocyte – a reporter cell for some of the hair follicle’s
Meeting Report: The 15th Annual Meeting of the European Hair Research Society ‘wows and woes’.” In his sparkling presentation, Desmond Tobin summarized his extensive research on hair pigmentation, focusing on recent findings on the unique properties of the hair follicle melanocytes and their regulation.
Jurgen Schweizer Prize
Since 2008, the prestigious Jurgen Schweizer Prize is given annually for the best scientific presentation by young promising scientists. This year, the award went to Maria Kasper (Huddinge, Sweden) for her outstanding contribution “Wounding re-programs hair follicle stem cell progeny and promotes tumorigenesis.” This work established the link between wounding environment and the formation of skin carcinomas, mediated by the reprogramming of follicular Lgr5+ cells to a stem cell-like state.
Best Oral and Poster Presentation on Basic and Clinical Research
The Best Oral Presentation Award for Basic Research was presented to Jamie Upton (London, UK) for his study “Oxidative stress plays a direct role in mediating dihydro testosterone-stimulated TGF-B secretion by dermal papilla cells.” The study further confirmed the role of oxidative stress in promoting AGA, and suggested that it is mediated by TGF-B, a known inhibitor of hair follicle growth and catagen inducer. The Best Oral Presentation Award for Clinical Research was presented to Taro Koyama for his contribution “Clinical experience of androgenetic alopecia in 11 pairs of identical twins.” The EHRS also awarded two poster prizes to young scientists. The winners were Ji-Won Oh (Daegu, Korea) for best basic research poster on “Hair cycles of transplanted human hairs in nude mice,” and Sana Bhamla (Maharashtra, India) for best clinical poster “Is trichoscopy a reliable tool to diagnose early female pattern hair loss?”
EHRS General Assembly
The members of the EHRS thanked Professor Ralf Trueeb, who finished his 3-year term as the president of the EHRS, for his active efforts and dedication to the promotion of the Society. The assembly welcomed Dr. Gill Westgate as the new president and Professor Abraham Zlotogorski as the new secretary of the EHRS.
As final talks of the meeting, the upcoming hair research meetings were introduced. Ramon Grimalt (Barcelona, Spain) invited the audience to attend the 16″ EHRS meeting in Barcelona, Spain, during June 21-23, 2012, and Andrew Messenger (London, UK) presented the 7 World Congress for Hair Research 2013, which will be held in Edinburgh, Scotland, during 2-4 May.
Special social events were held during the meeting, including the opening ceremony at the magical environment of the Israel Museum following a guided tour in the museum, the Light and Sound Show at the David Tower at the old city of Jerusalem, which brought the walls of the city to life, telling in colors and sounds the history of the city, and the Gala event in Beit Shmuel, with great food and a magnificent view of the old city at night. Dinner was followed by a live music band, which played unique adaptations of songs to classical and modern instruments. The meeting ended in two guided tours of the holy places in the old city of Jerusalem, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Wailing Wall. Over 130 participants also woke at 3 am to view the outstanding view of sunrise over the Dead Sea from Masada.
The brave members who took part in this tour were rewarded by a pleasurable stay at the Ein Gedi Spa and experienced floating on the water of the Dead Sea.
Meeting Report: The 15th Annual Meeting of the European Hair Research Society The 15th meeting of the EHRS was a great success, and all participants and speakers agreed that the talks were of high quality. But maybe of greater importance is the fact that the outstanding social events and the relaxed, intimate environment allowed young scientists to closely interact with leading hair researchers. It is in such meetings that networks are established and renewed, and hopefully these collaborations will help us all advance hair research into new therapeutic modalities for hair diseases. We look forward to the next EHRS meeting, scheduled to be held during June 21-23, 2012, in Barcelona, and until then, “Shalom” and “Hasta pronto” from Jerusalem.