The hoary saying that there is no cure for jealousy or baldness may be a thing of the past .
Scientists from the University of Pennsylvania have reported in the journal Nature, that it may indeed be possible to grow new hair follicles. The findings, which stemmed from a study examining wound healing in animal models, showed that mice were able to grow new hair follicles over skin newly formed , during wound healing.
The trick word, the scientists say is wnts. The study led by George Cotsarelis found that the mice's wound-healing process involved the release of proteins called wnts.
Those proteins made mature skin cells that do not normally make hair during wound healing, behave like embryonic skin cells, giving rise to new hair follicles.
"We showed that wound healing triggered an embryonic state in the skin which made it receptive to receiving instructions from wnt proteins," Cotsarelis said in a University of Pennsylvania news release.
The researchers note that the wound-healing process may be a window of opportunity for mammals to generate new hair follicles via wnt proteins.
Wounding, they report, triggers new hair-producing follicles to form. This was a claim that was first made half a century ago after experiment on rabbits but which was written off as unconvincing. The new work shows the effect is real and a consequence of a molecular signal involving the protein called wnt. Following wounding, the signal increases the number of regenerated hair follicles.
If so, that process might inspire new treatments for hair loss, wounds, and other degenerative skin disorders, write the researchers.
"We've found that we can influence wound healing with wnts or other proteins that allow the skin to heal in a way that has less scarring and includes all the normal structures of the skin, such as hair follicles and oil glands, rather than just a scar, Cotsarelis was quoted.
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