Mon 10 Jan 2011
In an exciting new study conducted at the University Of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, researchers concluded that male pattern baldness may be caused by an inactivation of stem cells. For years, scientists and hair restoration physicians theorized that a depletion of stem cells or an abnormality of healthy stem cells causes genetic baldness. In this newest study, researchers seem to have clarified these differing ideas.
In the experiment, the research team analyzed scalp affected by male pattern baldness compared to healthy scalp and were surprised to find that the number of stem cells located within these two regions was identical. After some analysis, the team realized the difference between the bald scalp and healthy scalp wasn’t the total number of stem cells, but the number of one specific time of stem cell called a progenitor cell.
Progenitor cells are stems cells which have been activated and converted to a healthy, functional state. The lack of progenitor stem cells in the balding scalp seems to indicate that the hair loss is a result of the inactivation and improper conversion of certain stem cells into the progenitor cell state.
The researchers then isolated and extracted an analogous progenitor cell in mice, which, when removed and injected into a specialized mouse without an immune system, were able to grow a hair follicle. From here, the researchers plan on analyzing these types of progenitor cells in female hair loss sufferers, and also theorize that this type of therapy could be used in a type of injectable, stem cell based serum or topical treatment in the future.
Although this progress is quite exciting, it’s always good to keep “miracle cures” in perspective and remain cautiously optimistic toward future applications. The biggest breakthrough inherent in this study, in my personal opinion, is the idea that baldness is caused by stem cell inactivation/improper progenitor activate and not by a lack of stem cells in the scalp. By figuring this out, researchers have made a big step toward honing in on an accurate stem cell based therapy.
Blake Bloxham – formerly “Future_HT_Doc”
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