Scientists in the US have accidentally stumbled upon a cause of baldness which could lead to hope for a potential future cure.
The discovery was made when scientists were looking into anti-inflammatory immune cells, referred to as Tregs. They were trying to establish what role Tregs played in the health of the skin. However, when they removed these cells from the body of mice, they discovered something completely unexpected – without these cells, the hair didn’t grow back.
What does this discovery mean for future hair loss treatments?
What’s interesting about this discovery, is that it strengthens the knowledge of what actually causes hair loss.
Up until now, it’s been thought that stem cells are responsible for re-growing the hair once it starts to fall out. However, after this most recent accidental finding, it’s shown stem cells only help the hair to re-grow, if Tregs are present in the body.
It’s thought the Tregs protect the stem cells from inflammation, and together they help to regenerate the hair. So, if future treatments are to be successful, they’d need to focus not only on stem cell regeneration, but on Tregs too.
Could Treg defects be responsible for alopecia areata?
The Treg discovery has also raised questions as to whether they could be responsible for the more serious type of hair loss – alopecia areata.
Alopecia areata is an auto-immune condition which causes the hair to start falling out in patches. In some cases, the sufferer can go completely bald. As it is an immune-based condition, it would make sense that Tregs could be a potential cause. So, this newfound knowledge doesn’t just provide hope for a cure for more common types of hair loss – it could also help those suffering from alopecia areata too.
Overall, there have been some substantial breakthroughs made in hair loss research recently. However, this Tregs discovery is certainly one of the more promising.