Baldness is just a fact of life for many guys, as run of the mill as saying “how was your weekend?” to colleagues on a Monday morning and those dreadful hangovers you get past the age of 30.
And although we’ll say time and time again that being bald is no big deal, there are plenty of men out there who’d opt to avoid hair loss if they could.
Which is why we’re sure many of you will be interested to know that scientists may have discovered a way to prevent and reverse baldness.
Researchers at the University of California Riverside have identified a single chemical that they say is “key to controlling when hair follicle cells divide, and when they die”.
This discovery could not only treat baldness, but ultimately speed-up wound healing, because follicles are a source of stem cells.
The study’s lead author, Dr Qixuan Wang, explained further. “In science fiction when characters heal quickly from injuries, the idea is that stem cells allowed it,” she said.
“In real life, our new research gets us closer to understanding stem cell behaviour, so that we can control it and promote wound healing.”
Dr Wang’s team studied hair follicles, because they’re the only organ in humans that regenerate automatically and periodically, even without injury.
The researchers determined how a type of protein – called TGF-beta – control the process by which cells in hair follicles divide and form new cells, or orchestrate their own death – eventually leading to the death of the whole hair follicle.
No one is entirely sure why follicles kill themselves, but the researchers believe that further study of the TGF-beta protein could hold the answer. Research so far suggests the amount of TGF-beta present is a key factor.
Being able to more precisely control levels of TGF-beta could also one day cure baldness, they said in the study, which is published in the Biophysical Journal.
Dr Wang added: “Potentially our work could offer something to help people suffering from a variety of problems.”