Good News for Hairy Women and Bald Men
April 26, 2003
Scientists have discovered two natural proteins that can turn skin
cells into hair follicles, which may offer a solution for people
with either too much or too little hair.
The interaction between the proteins Wnt and Noggin has been found
to cause parent cells, known as stem cells, to develop into hair
follicles rather than skin cells. The proteins work by changing
a stem cell’s shape so that it can separate from other cells
and move downward, which is an important part of hair follicle formation.
This natural interaction may hold the key to stimulating the growth
of hair or preventing the formation of unwanted hair, researchers
Skin has a vast reservoir of stem cells that allows skin to renew.
Researchers are exploring whether certain drugs could activate the
natural factors and "coax" some cells to become follicles
rather than skin cells.
Similarly, drugs that halt the signals may be useful in getting
rid of unwanted hair.
Additionally, the research may apply to some treatments of cancers,
such as colon and breast tumors. The process that results in the
separation of a stem cell from other cells may be the same process
that allows cancer cells to spread, according to researchers.
March 20, 2003;422(6929):317-22