Could this be the answer to male pattern baldness?Male pattern baldness is estimated to affect up to two thirds of men in the UK alone. Also known as androgenetic alopecia, this condition develops gradually and can typically present with a bald spot on the crown, thinning hair or a receding hair line. As this condition is known to affect men worldwide, with some men displaying symptoms from their early twenties, there is a high demand for scientific research which can suggest pharmaceutical results. Recently, researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine, at the University of Pennsylvania have found a mechanism which can disrupt male pattern baldness. The researchers were originally studying mutations in the WNT-10A gene which can cause inherited disorders of the skin, hair follicles, nails and even teeth.

What were the research findings?

Researchers were studying mice and tissue from human patients with WNT-10A mutations when they found evidence that the WNT-10A plays a role in the proliferation of hair follicles. previous research as well as these new findings all suggest that reduced levels of WNT-10A are able to contribute to male pattern baldness. Decrease in proliferation and keratin-9 expression when WNT-10A was absent, was a result of a signalling failure for a certain pathway which is required to stabilise the protein beta-catenin – responsible for entering the nucleus of the cell and activating gene transcription.

What do the research results suggest?

The results suggest that small molecule drugs which can activate the beta-catenin pathway, downstream of WNT-10 could be the answer to treating thinning hair and skin defects on the palm and sole. Such drugs could also be used one day to treat and prevent hair loss in male patients of androgenetic alopecia. However, as these are just initial findings more research is required before any potential pharmaceutical interventions can be reached to prevent, reverse or potentially cure male pattern baldness.

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By Ian Watson

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