Losing your hair can be a difficult time, but the worry of going bald in old-age may soon be a thing of the past as scientists reckon they’re closing to creating a cure for hair loss.
Scientists at the New York School of Medicine believe they have discovered a way to reverse the process of naturally occurring hair loss after successfully regrowing hair on damaged skin.
Hair loss currently affects around a quarter of men, who shockingly start to go bald around the age of just 25, while four in ten women have visible hair loss by the time they reach 40.
The results of the trial, which were published in the Nature Communications journal, revealed that scientists activated a pathway in the brain called the ‘sonic hedgehog’ which is utilised in the womb when hair follicles are being formed, but stalls in aged or damaged skin.
Researchers looked at damaged skin in laboratory mice and focused on collagen-secreting cells called fibroblasts, which are responsible for maintaining the health and strength of hair.
Dr Mayumi Ito activated the sonic hedgehog signalling pathway, which is how cells communicate with each other, and saw results of hair regrowth in mice within just four weeks. After nine weeks, the researchers observed the appearance of new hair roots and shaft structures.
Dr Ito told The Sun newspaper: “Now we know it’s a signalling issue in cells that are very active as we develop in the womb, but less so in mature skin cells as we age. Our results show stimulating fibroblasts through the sonic hedgehog pathway can trigger hair growth not previously seen in wound healing.”
Earlier this year, scientists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have discovered a mutation in mice that causes their skin to become wrinkled and their hair to fall out – also known as mitochondrial dysfunction.
They were then able to link that research to a similar decline in mitochondrial function seen in humans during the ageing process, with mitochondrial dysfunction associated to age-related diseases. This can include issues ranging from cardiovascular disease to diabetes and cancer to neurological disorders.