Baldness and Hair Loss – Going Extinct?

Chemical messengers control hair growth

(RxWiki News) Baldness could become a choice rather than a begrudging and dreaded part of aging   -  now that we have a better understanding of the chemical conversation process.

Reaserchers believe male pattern baldness naturally evolved in humans and primates as a means to convey maturity which females associate with protective security - an appealing trait.

But in the age-conscious 21st century America, baldness is generally identified with aging and a loss of virility, a message men do not want to send out to women.

Hence the quest to develop a commercial product that is “Guaranteed to cure baldness.” Researchers at Yale University may have discovered a Holy Grail in cellular chemical communication regarding the regeneration of hair.

"Ask your dermatologist about baldness therapies."

Apparently researchers have located the chemical messengers and now understand the process that signals hair growth. Basically stem cells in the uppermost layer of skin which is a primairly a fatty tissue layer that surrounds the hair follicles, can be stimulated to produce hair growth factors once again.

This processs sends the chemical messengers to break the hair follicles out of dormancy and, like the springtime grass, starts growing again. 

Valerie Horsley, assistant professor of molecular, cellular, and developmental biology at Yale University who contributed to the research explained the process. “If we can get these fat cells in the skin to talk to the dormant stem cells at the base of hair follicles, we might be able to get hair to grow again, " she said of the article that appears in Cell journal.

In mammalian skin when the upper layer of the skin looses its fat tissue, the hair stops growing as the stem cells at the base of the follicle go dormant.  The hair sheds and is not replaced with new growth because of the lack of stimulation.  

The surrounding skin layer changes as fat cells in the epidural layer shrinks creating bald patches. The Yale research team discovered these fat cells become plumped again with stimulation from either the irradiated or newly transplanted stem cells in the epidermis.

Chemical messengers are released and stimulate hair follicles to restart hair growth. Until now the  exact process and players were poorly understood. 

Scientist are hopeful that by understanding this line of chemical communication similar breakthroughs may come about in controlling the development of gray hair as well.

The results of this study appear in Cell.

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Review Date: 
October 5, 2011