Researchers discovered what may be an underlying cause of male pattern baldness: an inability of stem cells in the scalp to develop into the type of cells that make hair follicles.
The discovery, published on January 4 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, could give hope to men and women with hair loss, said the researchers in a release.
In people who are bald, hair follicles have shrunken to a microscopic size, said study researcher Dr. George Cotsarelis, a professor of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania in the US. But interestingly, the new study reveals that bald people have the same number of stem cells as those with hair – they just don’t function the same.
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Scientists are hoping to coax the stem cells into producing more hair follicle progenitor cells, so that it could be possible to generate bigger hair follicles that could grow hair, he said.
Last year, researchers also discovered a new gene related to hair loss that might facilitate therapy for many concerned. As reported by the science journal Nature, they found out that the gene APCDD1 is often responsible for so-called male pattern baldness, a hereditary process beginning during childhood. Officially termed hair follicle miniaturization, this process causes thick, dark hair to be replaced by much finer hair.
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