Scientists at Northwestern University have made a major stride forward in the fight against baldness as they may have unlocked a novel method of promoting hair growth.
The research, initially presented in the PNAS journal, explains that as individuals age, their hair follicles harden, inhibiting hair growth.
However, this could be reversed by softening the hair follicles, which can be done by amping up the production of RNA, miR-205 – a particle known to mitigate the rigidity of the cells.
The experiment, conducted on mice, saw scientists genetically manipulate the stem cells to increase the production of miR-205, promoting hair growth in both young and elderly mice.
Rui Yi, the senior author of the study and a professor at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Illinois, explained to SciTechDaily: “They started to grow hair in 10 days. These are not new stem cells being generated. We are stimulating the existing stem cells to grow hair.”
The expert explained that manipulating cell mechanics could stimulate hair growth and said that if further tests on mice were successful, they will design experiments for its potential application in humans.
The groundbreaking study utilised high-tech microscopy tools such as atomic force to gauge cell stiffness and two-photon microscopy to monitor cell behaviours in mice.
Experts are hoping the results will be replicated in humans, but urge caution about drawing parallels just yet.
Dr Ken Williams Jr, founder of Orange County Hair Restoration in Irvine, California, said: “The challenge is that the mouse model does not always translate into the same human observations. I want to temper any high expectation about these results. It is too early to determine the efficacy or benefit from these studies. We are hopeful that further research will be of value when applying it to humans.”
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