Published on May 9th, 2017
Worried about your thinning strands?
You’re not alone: 62 percent of men with thinning hair believe it can tank their self-esteem, and 1 in 5 even say it can spark feelings of depression.
By the time guys hit 35, two-thirds of them will experience some degree of hair loss.
Scientists have just come a little closer, a group of researchers from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center have identified cells that directly give rise to hair, which could lead to future treatments for greying and baldness.
Cells that make hairs and give them their colour were accidentally discovered by the scientists who were exploring how some cancer tumours form. When the cells were removed in mice, they became bald. And, deleting a gene in the cells turned the mice hair white.
This project was started in an effort to understand how certain kinds of tumours form, the scientists ended up learning why hair turns grey and discovering the identity of the cell that directly gives rise to hair.
With this knowledge, scientists hope in the future to create a topical compound or to safely deliver the necessary gene to hair follicles to correct these cosmetic problems.
The breakthrough arrived after scientists found that a protein called KROX20, typically associated with nerve development, turned on in skin cells that become the hair shaft.
These hair precursor, or progenitor, cells then produce a protein called stem cell factor (SCF) which is essential for hair pigmentation. When scientists deleted the SCF gene in the hair progenitor cells in mice, their hair turned white.
When they deleted the KROX20-producing cells, no hair grew and the mice became bald.
Researchers will now attempt to see if KROX20 in cells and the SCF gene stop working properly as people age, causing the greying and hair thinning seen in older people – as well as in male pattern baldness.
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Source: menshealth.com, thesun.co.uk, esquire.co.uk, Images: pixabay.com