A common problem that becomes worse as we age is hair loss. Our hair follicle stem cells stiffen with time, similar to joints, which prevents them from sprouting hair. That is the startling result of a recent Northwestern Medicine research on baldness.
Surprisingly, the scientists discovered a method to soften these stem cells, reviving their ability to generate hair.
The answer is centered on a little RNA molecule called miR-205. They discovered that by increasing miR-205 production, the stem cells’ stiffness decreased, which in turn promoted hair development.
The Northwestern group utilized genetically engineered mice as its participants in their ground-breaking work, which was published in PNAS. The method was straightforward but still quite profound.
The stem cells were genetically modified by the researchers to create too much miR-205. Young and aged mice both had a promising acceleration in hair development as a consequence.
Professor Rui Yi says that “The hair started to sprout in just 10 days. We are not generating new stem cells here. Rather, we’re stimulating the existing ones to grow hair. Often, we have ample stem cells; they just may lack the capability to produce hair.”
The study underscores the potential of catalyzing hair growth through the adjustment of cell mechanics.
Yi says that “Due to the feasibility of delivering microRNA via nanoparticles directly into the skin, we’ll next test whether topically applied miR-205 can stimulate hair growth in mice. If that’s successful, we’ll plan experiments to explore whether this microRNA could potentially promote hair growth in humans.”
It was necessary to employ genetically modified mice models to carry out this work.
The Northwestern studied cell activity in living animals and measured stiffness, using atomic force microscopy and two-photon microscopy.
Scientists from Northwestern, including Jingjing Wang, Yuheng Fu, and Kathleen Green, worked together to conduct the study.
Alopecia usually refers to body or head hair loss. Male pattern baldness (MPB), the most prevalent kind, is characterized by hair loss on the crown and/or hair regrowth on the lateral sides of the forehead.
Women can also experience a form of hair loss, albeit usually less severely and without the same patterns of baldness.
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a male hormone, and genetics are frequently linked to androgenetic alopecia.
Other causes of hair loss include other types of alopecia, such as alopecia areata, a condition in which the immune system of the body assaults the hair follicles, telogen effluvium, which is normally brought on by a physical or emotional shock to the body, and anagen effluvium, which is frequently brought on by therapies like chemotherapy.
Stress, hormonal changes, poor diet, certain drugs, and underlying medical disorders are among the causes that can cause hair loss.
Numerous initiatives have been made to stop hair loss and encourage hair growth. Here are some noteworthy examples:
Minoxidil (Rogaine) is a topical drug available without a prescription that is administered to the scalp. It prolongs the hair follicles’ development phase, albeit its precise mechanism is still unclear.
Finasteride (Propecia) – Propecia is a drug that requires a prescription and is primarily used to treat male pattern baldness. It functions by preventing testosterone from being converted into DHT, which can damage hair follicles.
Hair Transplant – Small skin patches with a few hairs a piece are transferred from one area of the scalp to another during this procedure. Compared to medicine, it is a longer-lasting but also more intrusive approach.
Laser Therapy – While widely used, there is some controversy over the effectiveness of several FDA-approved low level laser devices used to promote hair growth.
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) – In order to promote hair growth, this procedure entails injecting your own blood into your scalp after centrifuging it to concentrate the platelets. Results might vary because the science behind it is still rather young.
Stem Cells – As you may now be aware, stem cell therapy is a more recent and intriguing area of study that is still in the testing phase but it does show a lot of promise.
It’s crucial to remember that not all therapies are effective for everyone, and what works best will frequently rely on the reason for hair loss, the person’s health, and other variables.
Before beginning any treatment for hair loss, always get medical advice!