09 Jun Causes Of Baldness, Gray Hair Identified
Research on a rare genetic condition led Dr. Lu Le and his team from the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Texas in Dallas to find the cause of baldness and graying.
Dr. Lu’s team had set out to study the disease called neurofibromatosis (type 1) or NF1. NF1 is a genetic disorder in which, tumors begin to grow on the nerves in the body. The premise of the study was to investigate the mechanism behind the tumor growth in NH1, which lead to them discovering the cause of baldness and graying. In a journal titled ‘Genes and Development,’ you can find the detailed report of the team’s findings on the subject.
Statistics of balding and graying
In 2012 a study was carried out that found 6-23 percent of adults in the world see 50 percent grayness by the age of 50. Though grayness is a normal aging process it can be extremely distressing for some people.
In the United States itself, two-thirds of the men, by the age of 3,5 see some percentage of hair loss as per the American Hair Loss Association. 40 percent of the people facing hair loss in the United States are women.
The findings of the research done by Dr. Le and his team can help in finding new and more effective ways to cure or slow balding and grayness.
Hope of effective topical treatments
Studies done before have found that hair follicles have stem cells that play a major role in the production of hair. Also that SCF or stem cell factor is the protein which is associated with hair color or pigmentation.
The new study by Dr. Le shows that as the stem cells move toward the base of the follicles, KR0X20 (a protein) is activated in the skin cells. The actual role of this protein is the field of nerve development. KR0X20 then forms hair shafts or hair progenitor cells. These hair progenitor cells give birth to stem cell factor and further lead to hair pigmentation.
Study on mice has shown that when the presence of SCF and KR0X20 is there in the skin cell, they combine with melanocyte cells and changes the color of the hair. Melanin is produced by melanocyte cells, it is this that gives color to eyes, hair, and skin in the body.
In the tests when SCF was removed from the mice they grew gray hair, which eventually turned white. But when the cells producing KR0X20 were removed no gray hair grew on the mice. So the findings show that changes in SCF and KR0X20 have an important role in the cause of balding and graying.
Studies on human beings are still to be conducted for this to be confirmed. Nevertheless, these new findings by Dr. Le and his team are a huge ray of hope in discovering new and effective therapies for such age-old problems. His team hopes at finding a topical compound or the gene that will help the hair follicles to correct the issue of balding.
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