New baldness treatment a step closer after scientists inspired by animals’ winter coats Altering the environment around a person”s hair follicles could be key
Researchers are on the verge of creating a new form of baldness treatment, after studying the way animals both grow and shed their winter coats.
It could provide relief to half of all men who are completely bald by the time they reach 50, as well as tens of thousands of women who suffer thinning hair after the menopause.
Hair growth is triggered in animals both by hormones in the skin layer known as the dermis as well as signals from elsewhere in the body.
These signals vary with the seasons, which is why animals can grow thicker fur in the colder months.
Scientists have been searching for a baldness cure for years, without success
Dr Cheng-Ming Chuong, from the University of Southern California, said scientists could harness this ability to create a new approach to treating human baldness.
“The hair-follicle stem cell is not only listening to the voice in the stem cell, but also the voice from outside,” Dr Chuong said in an interview prior to a meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology in Denver.
Instead of trying to stimulate the hair follicle directly by implanting stem cells into it, Dr Chuong said a treatment could try to alter the environment around the hair follicles. This could create the outside signals present in animals but long since lost in humans.
“This extra follicle-affecting factor has disappeared during human evolution,” Dr Chuong told MyHealthNewsDaily.
“To deal with the hair growth, you not only try to help the stem cell, but you can improve the “soil,” like – You put a tulip bulb in a nicer soil, you will grow a nicer hair.”
At present, the only two to have been clinically proven to slow down hair loss and prevent a bald patch worsening are the drug finasteride and a lotion called Minoxidil.
Hair can be replaced with painful and expensive surgical hair transplants, where follicles are removed from an area of dense hair on the head and transplanted to the bald patch. The procedure to cover just a small patch costs 30,000, which is out of the reach of most people.