Researchers who were set out to investigate a rare genetic disease may have just discovered the remedy to graying of the hair and hair loss. This is after they discovered the mechanisms that lead to these two conditions instead.
The study which was co-authored by Dr. Lu Le, of the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Unit at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas and colleagues were focused on investigating a disorder that is known as neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) which is a genetic condition which involves the growth of tumors on nerves.
The objective which was to discover the mechanisms behind tis rare genetic disorder was not achieved. However, the researchers instead identified the processes that lead to baldness and hair graying. This discovery would add on the knowledge on how to come up with new treatment to hair loss and graying.
The findings of this research were reported and published in the journal Genes and Development.
The America Hair loss Association has since released some daunting facts that in the United States, around two thirds of the men by the age of 35 will go through some level of hair loss. The facts further suggest that of all the population with this condition in the U.S, 40 percent are women, which is actually very high for women.
A 2012 study showed that around 6 to 23 percent of adults at the around the age of 50 years in the world can expect to have at least 50 percent coverage of the gray hair.
Hair loss and graying may appear normal to some people as advance with age. However, this is not the case with everyone and its can be distressing especially when these conditions happen to them at a very early age. Actually hair loss and graying is considered as a normal and a must condition to the elderly. This discovery could be a relief to many since Dr. Lu Le and colleagues believe that this knowledge could lead to a remedy to baldness and hair graying.
Findings that are believed can lead to topical remedies
The team of the scientists were already aware that stem cells that are found on the hair follicles are responsible for the hair creation and that the Stem Cell Factor (SCF) plays a major role in the hair pigmentation.
However, the scientists did not have complete knowledge of what happens after the stem cells move down and which cells actually are responsible for producing the SCF. This research in addition enabled them to identify some details on what happens when the stem cells move down to the base of the hair follicles. They discovered that once the downward movement of the stem cells takes place a protein called KROX20 which plays an important role in the nerve development is brought to function and leads to the production of the hair progenitor cells.
Further, the team discovered that once the KROX20 is functional, the hair progenitor cells produce SCF which is very important for hair pigmentation.
More discoveries were made as the study continued. This time it was in mice with skin cells that had functioning KROX20 and SCF present where the team discovered that they move up and connected with the melanocyte cells which are pigment producing cells. Once the connection happened, they would grow into pigmented hairs.
When the SCF in was completely removed in the mice, the team discovered that mouse would grow gray hairs which turned white with age. And when the KROX20 was not present no hair grew at all.
The researchers say based on their findings, the presence of any abnormalities in KROX20 and SCF have quite significant role in hair loss and graying. However, research in people must verify their results.
The researchers have high hopes that there could be a possible and safe treatment to hair loss and graying which would require more research. Based on the findings, the researcher is somehow providing the process on why hair loss and graying are among the signs of aging.
Statement by Dr. Lu Le
“Although this study was previously aimed at identifying the mechanism behind the formation of certain tumors, we instead discovered why hair turns gray and discovered the process and the cell that is directly involved in the making of hair. Equipped with this knowledge we are looking forward to create a topical compound, or to securely administer the appropriate gene to hair follicles to get rid of these conditions.