Medical researchers around the world number in the hundreds of thousands if not millions, and they are working on cures for every disease, ailment and condition under the sun. Additionally, they are applying their knowledge across a broad range of research theories meaning that every day new discoveries are made. Some of those discoveries, especially in the field of stem cell research, may one day lead to new treatment possibilities for people with hair loss.
As with most things in medicine, it can sometimes seem like you need a degree just to understand the definition, but a pretty straightforward explanation of stem cell research is this one, from news-medical.net: “Stem cells are mother cells that have the potential to become any type of cell in the body. One of the main characteristics of stem cells is their ability to self-renew or multiply while maintaining the potential to develop into other types of cells. Stem cells can become cells of the blood, heart, bones, skin, muscles, brain etc. There are different sources of stem cells but all types of stem cells have the same capacity to develop into multiple types of cells.”
Researchers experimenting with stem cells for a variety of reasons have made a number of findings that relate to hair regrowth. In many cases, doctors were actually focused on an entirely different medical issue and discovered the hair regrowth potential of their work almost by accident. Here are some of the more recent stories:
One of the trials where hair regrowth was actually the focus of the doctors' attention took place recently at the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in California. Equal parts fascinating and rather macabre, a research team there reported in January that they were able to use human stem cells to grow hair in mice: their goal, of course, is to try the technology on humans. Current obstacles that stand in the way of this becoming a treatment option for people with hair loss include the inability (at present) to grow the hair in sufficient quantity but it is nonetheless an encouraging starting point.
Veterinary researchers at the University of Calgary announced in December that they, too, had seen encouraging results. According to Global News Canada, researchers were able to identify the existence of skin stem cells in adult hair follicles that may one day be targeted to stimulate new hair growth. “We hope that we can ultimately stimulate these cells with drugs to replenish or rejuvenate the cells that are responsible for inducing hair growth,” said Jeff Biernaskie, one of the researchers behind the discovery.
According to The Express newspaper, reporting at the end of last year and also covered on Belgravia's hair loss blog, scientists at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre have discovered an unexpected link between skin regeneration and the body’s defence system in relation to Alopecia.
“Their efforts have revealed that cells from the immune system called macrophages which devour invading pathogens are somehow involved in the process,” says the newspaper, going on to explain that these macrophages induce hair growth by surrounding and activating stem cells in the skin which have regenerative capacity.
This blog is updated regularly with the most current information about research into new hair loss treatment trials, so do keep checking back to get the latest updates.
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