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Stem Cell Recount: A Cure for Hair Loss?
Stem cell research has been a topic of promise and controversy in our culture, and scientists claim that these powerful cells can treat a number of human ailments. Baldness is one of them. Many studies on stem cells and hair loss have been conducted, a number of them showing potential for a baldness cure. New research on the subject reveals some interesting information, which could lead to effective hair regrowth.
Newest Study on Stem Cells and Baldness
The Journal of Clinical Investigation reported findings that male-pattern baldness is due to stem cells failing to produce progenitor cells in the scalp. Progenitor cells are similar to stem cells in that they can differentiate into several cell types, but their capabilities are more limited. Where stem cells are totipotent, meaning they are able to develop into any cell type many times over, progenitor cells can only morph into a certain number of cells. The body uses progenitor cells to replace cells as they get damaged or die off, and they are one of the main cells responsible for hair growth.
Researchers have observed that there are dormant stem cells in balding areas, and all they need is a little stimulation in order to grow new hair. Hair follicles work in stages, continuously cycling through growth, rest and regrowth, and there are times when hair can become very long. Hair loss and baldness occur when the follicles thin out and regrowth decreases. With baldness, stem cells are present on the scalp, but they are deficient, unable to produce progenitor cells to generate hair. There are signals involved in getting stem cells to create hair, and the study suggests that scientists need to figure out those signals so they can formulate an effective process for making progenitor cells. If they can accomplish this, stem cells could become a hair loss cure. As of right now, this study has only been conducted on men, and there are no details on how it may affect female hair-loss.
Previous Research on Hair Loss and Stem Cells
This is not the first time that information has sprouted up about the connection between stem cells and hair loss. In fact, there have been many previous studies attempting to uncover the mystery of baldness. One study last year identified a gene, APCDD1, that causes hereditary hypotrichosis simplex, which is progressive and begins in childhood. This condition makes hair follicles shrink and narrow down, causing hair to thin. Scientists believe that if they can manipulate the pathway of this gene, they could formulate a treatment for hair growth in humans. While this does not link hair loss to stem cells, it is a promising development in baldness research.
Another study found that a molecule called beta-catenin could be a key element in the battle against hair loss. This molecule instructs embryonic cells to become hair follicles. Another company created a treatment that identified wnt proteins as triggers for stem cells to form hairs. Most of this research is still being tested, and nothing has been verified as a legitimate cure for hair loss.
Will Stem Cells Cure Baldness?
With all the studies being done and the data collected, it seems that stem cells offer a promising outlook for hair-loss sufferers. However, an approved treatment may still be a few years away. For those looking to take care of their thinning hair right now, there are some proven options that can help. Non-surgical treatments, such as Rogaine and Propecia, have shown to improve the look of hair and even help stimulate some growth. These are great methods to fight hair loss, especially for those in the early stages of baldness or those who do not want to undergo surgery.
One of the best and most advanced treatments for hair loss today is hair transplant surgery. Most hair restoration surgeons will use follicular unit transplantation, which takes follicle units from the donor area, or back of the head, and places them in the balding areas. This is one of the only ways to permanently stop hair loss and restore the look of your old hairline. So until scientists can perfect a stem cell treatment for baldness, hair restoration surgery may be your best option.
If you’re interested in learning more about hair loss treatments, you can schedule a consultation with any one of our certified hair loss specialists. Contact us today, and we’ll get you on your way to great looking hair.