Some of the best scientific discoveries are made accidentally while conducting another research study (just Google the origin story of Latisse). Something similar happened when Dr. Lu Le and researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, were studying Neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1), a rare genetic disease that cause tumors to grow on nerves.
They stumbled upon the key proteins that control hair loss and greying.
While investigating NF1, they discovered a protein, KROX20, that turns on the skin cells that become a hair shaft. Cells are than triggered to produce another protein, Stem Cell Factor (SCF). These two proteins turn out to be directly responsible for graying and baldness. When researchers deleted the cells that produce KROX20, the hair growth of mice stopped and they eventually went bald. When SCF was deleted, the mice’s hair turned white.
Scientists were originally looking into why certain type of tumors form, but instead they discovered the two major cells that determine hair growth and greying hair. Since animals were used in the study, more research is needed to discover if this process is true for humans, but the medical community is optimistic. There are current methods out that work, but this study puts us closer to completely reverse engineering balding and greying.
Good news for anyone who fears hair loss! Which is most of us. Based on statistics, the majority of adults will have to deal with hair loss while aging.
By the age of 50, up to 23 percent of adults are expected to have half their hair go gray.
Approximately two thirds of men and forty percent women in America will experience hair loss by the age of 35 according to AHLA (American Hair Loss Association) ?.
Is Topical Treatment an Option?
As per Dr. Le’s study, hair follicles have a certain protein, which is a key element in hair production. The SCF or Stem Cell Factor plays a vital role in hair pigmentation. The KROX20 is a protein that gets activated when SCF moves to hair follicle base. This protein is best known for its major part in nerve development. So once the KROX20 is stimulated, hair progenitor cells are formed.
In the future, topical treatments might be introduced based on the research. Dr. Le has said “With this knowledge, we hope in the future to create a topical compound or to safely deliver the necessary gene to hair follicles to correct these cosmetic problems.”
The entire research along with its finding was published in Genes and Development.
How Can Hair Loss Be Prevented or even Reversed?
Most people have seen success with supplements on the market formulated to activate blood vessels in the scalp and improve microcirculation. This reinvigorates hair follicles activating hair growth. Supplements can also nourish the root and strengthen hair, creating fuller, healthier hair while revitalizing old follicles for growth at the same time.
PGD2 is another enzyme that has been discovered to be responsible for instigating baldness. When you don’t get the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients you need hair loss can grow. There’s compounds found in nutrients that naturally decrease this enzyme in your body block the signal for hair loss. More info can be found here.