Hair loss is a seemingly increasingly common condition which affects millions of men and women in the UK alone. However, as of yet there are no real, permanent solutions available. There’s also a lot still to learn about the cause of hair loss, though researchers from the University of Calgary could have made an important discovery.
They discovered a signal which is vital for the function of stem cells within the hair follicles. This in turn, suggests that any disruption to that signal could not only lead to a slower wound healing process, but also to hair loss.
Understanding the results
The breakthrough research conducted by associate professor, Jeff Biernaskie, has been published within the npj Regenerative Medicine journal. It’s the first of its kind to identify a crucial signalling protein, known as Platelet Derived Growth Factor (PDGF).
The PDGF is responsible for signalling the dermal stem cells located within the hair follicles, to self-renew and multiply; something that’s crucial for the growth of new hair.
The research showed that when there is a lack of PDGF signalling, the number of dermal stem cells reduces. This is because they no longer have the ability to regenerate. In turn, this leads to hair loss, or rather a lack of hair growth.
With the knowledge developed from this study, researchers are now looking to focus on how the cells could be modulated and create therapies which could help to maintain hair growth.
Could stem cell treatments be key to hair loss cure?
The recent University of Calgary study isn’t the only one to identify a link between stem cells and hair loss. There are numerous organisations currently working hard to develop stem cell therapies, especially for those suffering with male pattern baldness.
It’s thought that this type of treatment will be available by the year 2020, with new breakthroughs being made consistently.
Overall, hair loss does affect a significant number of people and its cause is still largely unknown. However, this new research does take researchers a step closer to understanding hair loss and the potential for future stem cell therapies.