Many of us are struggling through the condition of hair fall and gray hair. This is the common problem but still, scientists are finding the biological cause of it. But now, scientists at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre have finally figure out the cells that cause hair to grow and develop pigment in mice. This is going to be a new treatment for gray hair and baldness.
Scientists discovered hair progenitor cells accidentally. They were researching for a rare genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow on nerves, called Neurofibromatosis Type 1.
Lead researcher Lu Le said, “The project was started in an effort to understand how certain kinds of tumors form, we ended up learning about gray hair and discovering the identity of the cell that directly gives rise to hair.
“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.”
Skin stem cells hold at the bottom of hair follicles that causes hair growth. But they were not sure how these skin cells turn into hair cells. During searching for the reason of cancer tumor formation, they discovered the protein called KROX20 that sets these cells apart.
These proteins are responsible for nerve development. It then causes the skin cells to grow a protein called stem cell factor (SCF). When these SCF molecules are exposed to the cell, they move up the hair bulb, interact with pigment-producing melanocyte cells, and grow into healthy, colored hairs.
Scientists conducted two experiment for testing. In the first experiment, they deleted the KROX20-producing cells, they found that no hair grew and mice became bald. During the 2nd experiment, scientists deleted the SCF gene in these hair progenitor cells, the animal’s hair turned white.
Scientists are already working on a project that will look for KROX20 and SCF in people with graying and thinning hair.
They said, “We hope that it might not only teach us about why our hair changes as we get older, but also aging in general. And the fact that we could potentially lead to treatments that will help us look younger for longer doesn’t hurt either.”