Good to know: you may not be bald. In fact, you may just have hair "so small it appears invisible to the naked eye
." A research team led by Dr. George Cotsarelis at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia has published a new study
indicating that the cause of baldness has been identified and a
potential cure may be on the way in the near future. According to the university's release
"the researchers surmised that balding may arise from a problem with
stem-cell activation rather than the numbers of stem cells in follicles.
In male pattern balding, hair follicles actually shrink; they don't
disappear. The hairs are essentially microscopic on the bald part of the
scalp compared to other spots." Here's how research reporters unpacked
- The Study: 'Cause' of Baldness Has Been Identified
The most succinct, yet informative, explanation of George Cotsarelis's
findings arrives courtesy of the BBC's Michelle Roberts.
Baldness, according to the researchers, "it is not simply a lack of
hair, but rather a problem with the new hair that is made," she writes.
"Although bald areas had the same number of hair-making stem cells as
normal scalp, there were fewer of a more mature type, called the
progenitor cell. This difference means that hair follicles in bald
patches shrink rather than disappear and the new hairs made are
microscopic compared to normal hair."
- Parsing the Potential Baldness Cure (May Work For Women Too) The New Scientist's Andy Coghlan
takes a glance back at Cotsarelis's previous experiments for clues to a
potential product that may help cure baldness. "In earlier experiments,
Cotsarelis also showed that in mice, transplanted follicular stem cells
to regenerate hair," Coghlan writes. "One possibility would be to take
stem cells from balding men, multiply these into progenitor cells, and
then return them to the scalp. Another is to find a chemical signal that
reawakens the stem cells, so it could simply be rubbed onto the bald
areas of the scalp. Cotsarelis says that although the finding is in men,
it may be also be applicable to women."
- When Could This
Theoretical Cure Be on The Market? "Within the next decade," Dr.
Cotsarelis was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail's Fiona Macrae.
The cure could come in the form of a possible "cream or lotion that is
rubbed onto the scalp, or a technique that involves removing the stem
cells from the scalp, kick-starting them in the lab and transplanting
- What About the Already Bald? Los Angeles Times reporter Rosie Mestel
raises this question and answers it herself. "Maybe nothing right now,
but the scientists do note that the results suggest 'potential
reversibility of this condition,'" she notes. "And, they add, these and
their other findings suggest the hair follicle is a fairly complicated
place. The new info should help them develop therapies down the road for
a range of hair and skin disorders."
Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments
or send an email to the author at
ehayden at nationaljournal dot com.
You can share ideas for stories on the Open Wire.