You wait years for an important breakthrough in the search for a hair loss cure… then two turn up in the same week. The other day we reported the work of Tokyo Medical and Dental University, where great strides in understanding the function of stem cells provided important insight into what causes hair follicles to deteriorate. Also published in the respected journal Science we have come across some research that might hold even greater promise for hair loss sufferers, and those for whom it seems an unavoidable fate.

 

What Are Proteins?

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Proteins are large, complex molecules that play many critical roles in the body. Comprising mostly amino acids they do most of the work in cells and are required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs. The study of the huge number of proteins and their various effects on our biology has, like many fields of medicine research, taken huge leaps forward in recent years. The introduction of ever improving methods of looking combined with an unprecedented ability to crunch the data gathered has had a profound effect.

University of Colorado

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The university can already boast one Nobel Prize among its alumni, with any luck a cure for hair loss might see them win one or two more. Not that the University is in need of famous alumni from a range of fields… Robert Redford went there, Roberta Ramo became the first President of the American Bar Association, Spencer Silver invented the Post It note, Hale Irwin won three US Open Golf championships… to name but a few. Our favourite had to be Steve Wozniak, technically not an alumni as he got thrown out for sending prank messages on their fledgling computer system. He didn’t let it hold him back though, he went off and founded Apple Computers and made the Fortune 500 within 5 years.

Breakthrough!

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We are definitely backing the team looking into hair loss to be next in line for their very own car park space dedicted to all Nobel Prize winners (we assume). While studying the growth phases of hair they identified a protein called FOXE1 and that it was responsible for triggering the rest phase. Incredibly, when they removed the gene that controls production of FOXE1 the hair follicle stayed permanently in the “on” phase and grew permanently.

Exciting news for hair loss sufferers we think, even if any sort of product is still a way off. Questions remain, but it seems like a massive step forward. To what extent does staying permanently in the “on” phase hold off the manifestation of male pattern baldness would be top of our list of things to be better understood… maybe it accelerates it through a more rapid deterioration of the follicle forced to work forever. Still, tied to the previous article about the Tokyo team achieving a greater understanding of what causes follicles to deteriorate over time it does seem serious advances are being made. The cutting edge nature of both pieces of research should give us all great encouragement that this might be the end of the beginning in the search for a cure.

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By Ian Watson

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