Clue to male baldness discoveredBy Helen Briggs
Health editor, BBC News website
A biological clue to male baldness has been discovered, raising the prospect of a treatment to stop or even reverse thinning hair.
In studies of bald men and laboratory mice, US scientists pinpointed a protein that triggers hair loss.
Drugs that target the pathway are already in development, they report in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
The research could lead to a cream to treat baldness.
Most men start to go bald in middle age, with about 80% of men having some hair loss by the age of 70.
The male sex hormone testosterone plays a key role, as do genetic factors. They cause the hair follicles to shrink, eventually becoming so small that they are invisible, leading to the appearance of baldness.
Now, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have analysed which genes are switched on when men start to go bald.
They found levels of a key protein called prostaglandin D synthase are elevated in the cells of hair follicles located in bald patches on the scalp, but not in hairy areas.
Mice bred to have high levels of the protein went completely bald, while transplanted human hairs stopped growing when given the protein.
Prof George Cotsarelis, of the department of dermatology, who led the research, said: "Essentially we showed that prostaglandin protein was elevated in the bald scalp of men and that it inhibited hair growth. So we identified a target for treating male-pattern baldness.
"The next step would be to screen for compounds that affect this receptor and to also find out whether blocking that receptor would reverse balding or just prevent balding - a question that would take a while to figure out."
The inhibition of hair growth is triggered when the protein binds to a receptor on the cells of hair follicles, said Prof Cotsarelis.
Several known drugs that target this pathway have already been identified, he added, including some that are in clinical trials.
The researchers say there is potential for developing a treatment that can be applied to the scalp to prevent baldness and possibly help hair regrow.
I thought this was quite old news, but seems to have a recent date on it.
Meanwhile, any news of progress on returning grey hair back to its natural colour? Hair dyes are tedious and I worry about the chemicals in them. Anyone heard of herbal suggestions such as fo-ti or he shou wu, which are supposed to work for some people? Any good? I know there are said to be side effects http://www.livestron...-of-he-shou-wu/
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the herbal remedy he shou wu (sometimes known as fo ti) is prescribed to enhance general health and increase life span, but its claim to fame is that it also is said to return gray hair to its original color. The direct English translation of he shou wu is "Black-haired Mr. He." In Chinese medicine theory, the kidneys control the growth and color of hair, and he shou wu is said to benefit the liver and kidneys
Kidneys? Hair colour? Are they serious?