A research team at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, reports that wounded lab mice could point the way to reversing hair loss.While studying the healing of wounds in mice, the team noticed that the animals developed new hair follicles after their skin was scraped.
“This is very unusual, because the dogma was that when you’re born, you’re stuck with the number of hair follicles that you have,” says study co-author George Cotsarelis, MD, director of the university’s Hair and Scalp Clinic. “And, if the follicles die—as occurs during aging—they can’t be revived.”
According to Cotsarelis, something in the mice’s healing process reprograms stem cells in the skin to start making new follicles. The process is like rebooting a computer and sending out a new command through a gene. The result is new follicles that act just like follicles should—they sprout hair.
Cotsarelis says that scientists may have to expand upon the treatment and work with genes to make hair grow properly.
The research could have other benefits as well.
“The follicle is a small organ—a mini-organ,” he says. “If you can figure out how to regenerate the follicle, you also have a better idea about how to regenerate a finger or a limb.”
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[Yahoo News, May 16, 2007]