Researchers at the New York School of Medicine believe that they have found a way to reverse the process of going bald. On average, people shed between 50 and 100 hairs a day, but some struggle with much more rapid hair loss. With approximately two-thirds of men in America experiencing some degree of appreciable hair loss by age 35, this discovery has the potential to change lives across the country.
The research was published in the journal Nature Communications. Scientists examined the damaged skin of laboratory mice, and their research focused on fibroblasts, which are cells that secrete collagen.
The study started with researchers activating a pathway in the brain known as the sonic hedgehog. This pathway is so named because of the spiky appearance of its molecules, giving it a resemblance to the famous cartoon character. The sonic hedgehog is a pathway that is very active in the womb as hair follicles are forming, but it tends to lose momentum in the wounded skin of healthy adults.
Researchers sparked communication between the cells in the sonic hedgehog of mice, and within four weeks they observed hair regrowth. After nine weeks, hair roots and shaft structures started appearing on the damaged areas.
According to lead study author, Dr. Mayumi Ito, these findings are not only an advancement for wounded skin, but it is a promising discovery for stimulating hair growth in older skin as well. If proven effective in further iterations of the experiment, the method may be a great help in the search for improved treatments to restore hair growth in all cases of hair loss.
“Our results show that stimulating fibroblasts through the sonic hedgehog pathway can trigger hair growth not previously seen in wound healing,” said Ito.
Scientists studying hair loss had assumed scarring and collagen build-up were the causes behind damaged skin’s inability to regrow hair. This success with stimulating the sonic hedgehog suggests otherwise.
Solutions for hair loss have made headlines before, even just earlier this year. Researchers from the University of Manchester had revealed that they could stimulate hair growth with sandalore. Sandalore is an artificial scent made to smell like sandalwood, and has been found to stimulate hair growth after six days. It can reportedly do this by increasing the scalp’s keratin levels.