Study on mice of­fers hope for bald­ness cure

Los Angeles Times - - The World -

Mice with deep skin wounds can grow new hair, sci­en­tists said Wed­nes­day in a find­ing that of­fers hope for a bald­ness rem­edy for hu­mans.

The mice re­gen­er­ated hair at the site of the wound via molec­u­lar pro­cesses sim­i­lar to those used in em­bry­onic de­vel­op­ment, ac­cord­ing to the re­search pub­lished in the jour­nal Na­ture.

The find­ings show that mam­mals pos­sess greater re­gen­er­a­tive abil­i­ties than com­monly be­lieved. Study leader Ge­orge Cot­sarelis, a der­ma­tol­ogy pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia School of Medicine, said the find­ings dis­pelled the dogma that mam­mal skin could not re­gen­er­ate hair fol­li­cles.

The re­gen­er­ated fol­li­cles func­tioned nor­mally, cy­cling through the var­i­ous stages of hair growth. The hairs lacked pig­men­ta­tion but were other- wise in­dis­tin­guish­able neigh­bor­ing hairs.

The re­searchers made rel­a­tively large wounds on the backs of adult mice, and found that if a wound reached a cer­tain size, new hairs formed at its cen­ter, with the skin un­der­go­ing changes that mim­icked stages of em­bry­onic hair-follicle de­vel­op­ment.

Dor­mant em­bry­onic molec­u­lar path­ways were ac­ti­vated, send­ing stem cells — which are able to trans­form into other cell types — to the dam­aged skin.

“They’re ac­tu­ally com­ing from epi­der­mal cells that don’t nor­mally make hair fol­li­cles. So they’re some­how re­pro­grammed and told to make a follicle,” Cot­sarelis said.

The re­searchers also found a way to am­plify the nat­u­ral re­gen­er­a­tion process, caus­ing mice to grow twice as many new hairs by giv­ing the skin a spe­cific molec­u­lar sig­nal.

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