A new study from Yale University has uncovered clues that will hopefully lead us to a better understanding of the causes of hair loss and possibly one day reverse it.
Researchers discovered a chemical trigger they believe can restore hair growth in dormant stem cells that have stopped growing. The breakthrough came after they identified that signals from fatty skin cells under the scalp were necessary to stimulate the stem cells at the base of hair follicles. While it is widely known that those suffering from androgenetic alopecia have the stem cells necessary for hair growth, until now there has been much debate as to what causes them to go dormant.
During the study, researchers learned that when the hairs die, a layer of fat in the scalp shrinks, and when a new hair begins to grow, that layer of fat expands, in a process called adipogenesis. Precursor cells, which are responsible for controlling the process, were tested on mice who were unable to grow hair, two weeks after the injections, hair follicles had begun to grow.
"If we can get these fat cells in the skin to talk to the dormant stem cells at the base of hair follicles, we might be able to get hair to grow again,” said Valerie Horsley, the lead author of the study. “We don’t know for sure if it’s a cure for baldness,” she said. “But I’m hopeful that we can get human cells to do the same as the mice cells.”
The study, published in the journal Cell, has doctors and researchers hopeful that we are getting closer to one day finding a cure for baldness.