A US-led study has just published results of some amazing research. It points to a previously unknown process playing a key role in hair loss.
Hair Growth Process
Our understanding of how hair grows has been improving for a while now. As we peel away at layers of complexity we must get ever nearer to a cure. Now a study reveals hair loss hope in the form of a completely new element to growth.
Not so long ago our knowledge boiled down to recognising the three phases of the hair follicle. During the first stage, called anagen, the hair is in active growth. This stage can last anything up to 7 years and see the hair grow up to 30 inches in that time. Of course, not everyone will grow hair that long. How long the growth stage lasts, and how long the hair might grow, will depend on genetics. age, and so much more.
The second stage is short, sometimes just a couple of weeks. During this catagen stage, the hair detaches from the follicle. It is followed by a resting phase, called telogen. During telogen, the old hair will stay in place while the new hair develops underneath. Finally, it falls out to be replaced by the younger version. At any one time, you can expect around 15% of your hair to be in telogen.
Uncovering Complexity in Hair Growth
When Francis and Crick cracked the structure of DNA in the 1950’s it opened a new world of medicine. The search was on to find the gene that controlled hair growth. Unfortunately for us hair loss sufferers, they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. To date, they have found well over 200 genes that all play a part in the process. An incredibly high figure which speaks to the challenges involved in understanding how to tweak them to our benefit.
But a team led by a US professor, Elaine Fuchs, has announced research results which casts an entirely new light on things. A process that is central to hair growth yet hitherto unknown.
Lymphatic System – New Hair Loss Hope
In an amazing piece of bioscience, Prof. Fuchs’ team has been studying a communication system the body uses. It involves the stem cells our body uses every day to repair and heal and how those cells communicate. They have successfully described a molecular messaging system they use.
By creating animals with transparent skin they were able to watch these communication channels in action. These ‘lymphatic capillaries’ are special blood vessels that form networks, including around hair follicles.
HIS Hair Clinic
It is mind-bending stuff. What they have watched and reported on are stem cells that control the health of the hair. Doing it by switching on growth factors, or a drainage system to take away toxins for example.
The promise is that this research might lead to a cure. That by instructing the stem cells to create hair growth we might, one day, simply be able to switch our hair on. Now wouldn’t that be something? You can see their publication, with all the stunning detail, here.
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