Scientists the world over are searching for a possible cure for baldness – although not life-threatening, hair loss can cause great distress and embarrassment to sufferers and a breakthrough would be greeted with great acclaim.
Latest Scientific Breakthroughs
Recently researchers in the US have been able to engineer stem cells to become dermal papilla cells, the cell that is vital for the formation of the hair follicle.
Dermal papilla cells are found in the top two layers of our skin and help form hair follicles – when the papillae stop working we see hair loss. Previous research has looked at ways of taking healthy dermal papillae from the hair follicle and trying to multiply them before placing them back into the skin. What was discovered was that the dermal papillae that was transplanted back into the skin had lost their ability to produce hair follicles during the multiplication process.
The US researchers have tested this new method of producing dermal papilla cells through the use of stem cells on rats and, so far, they have successfully been able to grow human hair on an adult rat.
One of the benefits of this method is that potentially it will work on those that are already suffering from advanced hair loss as you aren’t limited by the availability of existing hair follicles, but instead can grow more.
Curing Baldness by Accident
Although most scientific discoveries are the result of many years of painstaking work and dedication, the history of science is full of stories of a lucky accident that heralded a massive scientific breakthrough. The most famous is of course the discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming, but a recent accidental discovery could lead to a cure for baldness.
At the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre in Madrid, cancer expert Dr Mirna Perez-Moreno was testing anti-inflammatory drugs on mice and noted that they were growing extra fur. She discovered that macrophages, which are derived from white blood cells that are produced to fight infection, stimulated nearby stem cells to produce more hair follicles and hair growth.