January 5, 2011

Stem Cells And Male-pattern Baldness

New research suggests that male-pattern baldness may result from stem cells in the scalp failing to give rise to progenitor cells, which are the cells responsible for growing hair.

Researchers write in the Journal of Clinical Investigation that stem cells could be a potential treatment to grow new hair.

"Even in a bald scalp, there are stem cells there that you could activate to get new hair," said Dr. George Cotsarelis, chair of the Department of Dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

Although bald areas had the same number of hair-making stem cells as a normal scalp, there were fewer of the progenitor cells.

This difference means that hair follicles in bald patches shrink rather than disappear and the new hairs made are microscopic compared to normal hair.

Cotsarelis, who led the research, told BBC: "This implies that there is a problem in the activation of stem cells converting progenitor cells in bald scalp.

"The fact that there are normal numbers of stem cells in bald scalp gives us hope for reactivating those stem cells."

Cotsarelis and his colleagues believe that if scientists can figure out the signals involved in getting stem cells to produce a hair, and a focus on the process of stem cells leading to progenitor cells, they may be able to come up with a re-growth treatment.


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