Scientists Discover a Possible Key to Reversing Baldness – Forbes

http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexknapp/2011/09/03/scientists-discover-a-possible-key-to-reversing-baldness/

Scientists Discover a Possible Key to Reversing Baldness

From the page: “When I was a kid, one thing that always puzzled me about Star Trek: The Next Generation was Captain Picard. More specifically, the fact that he was bald. Surely, I thought, in a future where you can be healed without being touched and teleported, you could also cure baldness. Of course, it wasn’t until later that I realized that they probably could–but that Picard wasn’t the type of person who’d want to regrow his hair. And besides that, he had a good shaped head for being bald.

On the other hand, if I were to go bald, I would look less like Picard and more like a Sontaran. So while my hairline hasn’t made any strategic retreats from my forehead lately, I’m gratified to know that researchers at Yale have made a discovery that has the potential to lead to reversing baldness. Their research, recently published in the journal Cell, finds something that researchers in this area have been trying to find for awhile–the chemical signal that triggers hair growth.

Hair growth is triggered by stem cells underneath your skin, and those stem cells that don’t go away when you lose your hair. However, in order for the stem cells to cause the hair to grow, they have to be triggered by something. What the researchers at Yale determined is that the trigger is actually related to the regulation of the layer of fat underneath the scalp. When hair dies, the layer of fat shrinks. When hair grows, it expands. This suggests that the same signals that trigger the fat expansion will also trigger hair regrowth. They verified that this was the case in their lab mice.

Don’t get your hopes up for reversing baldness anytime soon, though. Now that they’ve confirmed the chemical triggers in mice, the next step is to research to see if the same or similar triggers will cause hair regrowth in people. Even if they do, it will still probably take years, if not decades, to find a working clinical solution to reverse baldness in people. Still, if they’re able to replicate their mouse findings in humans, it’s very possible that it will lead to a cure for baldness.

At least by the 24th Century, anyway.”

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