Researchers discover way to affect hair growth

According to a recent study published inĀ Cell Stem Cell, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have identified a molecular pathway that can be activated or blocked to encourage or prevent hair growth.

The pathway utilizes Wnt proteins, which are small molecular messengers that convey information between cells. The Wnt proteins in this pathway help to regulate adult stem cells, and has been shown to be important for hair follicle proliferation.

For the study, researchers utilized an animal model. By disrupting the Wnt signaling in the animal model, the researchers found that hair growth was prevented, although stem cells were still maintained within the dormant hair follicles.

When the inhibitor was removed, the Wnt pathway resumed normal function, the stem cells were activated, and hair growth was restored.

“While more research is needed to improve our understanding of this pathway, our results suggest that therapeutics capable of decreasing levels of Wnt signaling in the skin could potentially be used to block growth of unwanted hair,” says senior author Sarah Miller, PhD.

“Conversely, if delivered in a limited, safe, and controlled way, agents that activate Wnt signaling might be used to promote hair growth in dormant hair follicles in conditions such as male pattern baldness.”

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