New stem cell research can cure baldness, scientists say

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Scientists may have made a discovery that could put an end to baldness.

This is according to a study published in Biophysical Journal that has revealed that a single protein, which is responsible for helping hair follicles create new life, also determines when they die.

Stem cells responsible for healing the body are also found in hair follicles.

The study has found that a protein known as TGF-beta can turn hair stem cells on or off, causing them to grow or die.

Scientists may have made a discovery that could put an end to baldness.
diaper/Pexels

“In science fiction, when characters heal quickly from injuries, the idea is that stem cells allow it,” said study co-author and math biologist at the University of California Qixuan Wang.

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“In real life, our new research brings us closer to understanding stem cell behavior so that we can control it and promote wound healing.”

Other human organs, such as the stomach and liver, only recover when injured.

But hair follicles continuously regenerate themselves, which proved of great interest to researchers investigating the impact of TGF-beta.

The chemical controls how stem cells in hair follicles divide and form new cells or cause death of the entire hair follicle or apoptosis.

Cross section of an image of a hair follicle
Cross section of a hair follicle. New research on factors that determine the life and death of hair follicles could help people with baldness and wound healing, say researchers at the University of California, Riverside.
UCR/Zenger

Wang explained, “TGF-beta has two opposing roles. It helps activate some hair follicle cells to produce new life, and later it helps orchestrate apoptosis, the process of cell death.”

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If a cell produces too much of the chemical, it dies.

But if the right amount is produced, new cells are formed.

Wang said, “Even when a hair follicle kills itself, it never kills its stem cell reservoir.

“When the surviving stem cells receive the signal to regenerate, they divide, make new cells and develop into a new follicle.”

Stimulating hair growth by activating follicle stem cells may be possible through further research into the relationship between TGF-beta protein and cell differentiation.

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Ideal wound healing would involve the regeneration of hair follicles as human skin is covered with hair, while the ability to control levels of TGF-beta could lead to a cure for baldness.

Wang stated, “Potentially, our work could provide something to help people with various problems.”

This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.