Stem Cells and Hair Loss

For men and women who are losing hair the experience can be both frustrating and embarrassing. The association of a full head of hair with youth and vitality has left many people searching for a solution that truly works and doesn’t simply provide the false promises that numerous adverts offer. Earlier this year, new research was produced suggesting that stem cells may be a viable and effective treatment for hair loss. Despite the research still being in the very early stages and not having been performed on humans just yet, the results are promising. In particular, the ‘natural’ aspect of stem cells is particularly appealing to many people who prefer to avoid the claims provided by manufacturers of various topical or oral treatments, especially given their side effects.

Study Overview

A study at the University of Pennsylvania in the United States found that the action of stem cells could restore hair growth. The research itself is complicated but the mechanism is quite intriguing. Your head contains thousands of follicles and each follicle produces a single hair. These follicles are produced during embryonic development and it was originally thought that once they were lost – as in the case of balding – there was no way to restore them other than by manually implanting them, which many people find far too invasive. You are likely already aware of the basics of what a gene is and you know that your genes are inherited from your parents. Researchers at the university found a gene called Wnt. This gene does two things:

  • Helps wounds heal
  • Helps to make new hair follicles

What the researchers did may sound unusual, but they took lab mice and removed bits of skin on their heads, creating a wound. The creation of this wound essentially ‘woke up’ the Wnt gene. Once this gene was activated, it signaled the body’s stem cells to also ‘wake up’ and start functioning. The stem cells moved to the center of the wound to begin healing it and producing hair follicles with new hair growth. To further ensure that the experiment was working, researchers blocked the Wnt gene’s activity, which halted all new hair growth. They also tried increasing its activity, which then increased the rate of hair growth.

From Study to Pharmacy

It may seem almost ridiculous to think that a wound in the skin is responsible for hair growth, but it’s a surprising and exciting concept. That sequence of events – the wound activating the Wnt gene, which then activates wound healing and hair growth – is a concept that could provide treatment for the many people who have hair loss. Unfortunately, there is still a great deal of testing left to be done, which means that it’s many years before the treatment could become readily available for the public. The results, however, do show exceptional promise and thus far have shown little evidence of major side effects. For those who struggle with hair loss, the most current alternatives will have to suffice. In the meantime, do keep abreast of the latest research regarding stem cells because they may one day be a successful treatment for your hair loss.

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