A research team believes they may have found a cure for baldness by preventing chemical buildups that can cause it in the first place – and even use it to regenerate a person’s hair after it’s lost.
Modeling at the University of California, Riverside (UCR), found that when the chemical is in high concentrations, it kills hair follicles. But if the levels are ‘just right’, it causes them to grow new hairs.
The protein at the center of their discovery is TGF-beta, which not only controls the growth of a follicle, but can also lead to its death. The UCR research team believes that their levels can be ‘controlled’ to prevent hair loss from occurring.
About 40 million Americans are bald and, while many simply accept it as a part of aging, the new findings suggest that they may be a way to stop the loss of hair later in life.
Modeling at the University of California, Riverside, found high concentrations of TGF-beta – found naturally in the follicles – can be toxic to them (stock image)
Dr Qixuan Wang, the mathematical biologist at UCR who led the paper, said her research brought scientists a step closer to ‘controlling’ mechanisms that cause baldness.
Modeling carried out by the team found high concentrations of TGF-beta – naturally found in the follicles – can be toxic to them and lead to their death, and eventually fall out.
Baldness can be caused by so much chemical buildup in hair follicles that they die, the team says.
What is the difference between alopecia and age-related hair loss?
Alopecia areata is caused by the body’s immune system attacking hair follicles.
The follicles hold hair in place, so when they are damaged, the hair begins to fall out.
It usually causes circular or oval patches of baldness and can lead to someone becoming completely hairless.
The disease can occur at any time in life and is unpredictable, with experts still unsure what in a genetic make-up causes it.
Meanwhile, age-related hair loss is caused by hereditary factors.
In men it is called male pattern hair loss and in women it is called female pattern hair loss.
Genes inherited from both parents cause the follicles to shrink over time and eventually stop growing hair.
It can start in teenage years, but is more common in later life.
It is not caused by an immune reaction and therefore is not affected by drugs that aim to suppress the body’s defense system.
When ‘just right’ levels of the protein were reached in the follicles, cells were triggered to generate new hairs.
Cells in hair follicles die periodically, causing the hair to fall out – a process that happens about 100 times a day.
But each also contains stem cells, which can generate new hair-making cells to ensure that the lost strand grows back.
In baldness, however, this process is shut down – with Wang and co-author Dr Katherine Dinh arguing that this is down to the chemical TGF-beta.
‘Even if a hair follicle kills itself, it never kills its stem cell reservoir. When the surviving cells receive the signal to regenerate, they divide, make a new cell and develop into a new follicle,’ said Wang.
‘TGF-beta has two opposing roles here. It helps activate some hair follicle cells to produce new life, and later it helps orchestrate apoptosis, the process of cell death.’
“Our new research brings us closer to understanding stem cell behavior so we can control it and promote wound healing,” she added.
TGF-beta is a normal growth-stimulating chemical secreted by many cells throughout the body, including white blood cells.
In the research, scientists used datasets based on tests done on the surface of the skin that revealed the concentration of various chemicals.
Baldness – which can affect both men and women – is often inherited in genes.
But it can also be caused by the body starting to attack its own hair follicles – in a condition known as alopecia areata – which robs people of their hair within weeks.
Stress and wearing additives that pull on hair have also been implicated in hair loss.
View the study Dr. Anthony Oro, a dermatologist at Stanford Health Care in California, said that any conclusions about the role of TGF-beta based on this were ‘premature’.
‘TGF-Beta plays a complex role in normal hair growth, so the nomination is not surprising.
‘Several problems limit the impact of the study. First, the study uses existing data mostly in mouse hair growth, and we know that mouse and human hair growth regulation is very different.
‘Secondly, the study used normal hair cycles, not male baldness, both of which are very different, so the conclusions from one do not necessarily apply to the other.
‘Lastly, the study does not validate any of its findings in patients, so conclusions about the role of TGF-Beta in baldness are premature.’
Scientists find too much of chemical can trigger baldness Source link Scientists find too much of chemical can trigger baldness