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Scientists Seek New Ways To Grow Hair On Bald Pates

ing doesn't touch. Ordinary hair transplants show that follicles from these resistant regions stay resistant even when planted in bald regions, he said. But even if the transplanted cells do eventually succumb, "you've got years of hair on your scalp that's of benefit to you," said Washenik, who also works for a hair transplantation business called Bosley.

Ultimately, he said, scientists would love to accomplish the same goal with a cream that can be smeared on the scalp and deliver just the right chemical signals to stimulate new follicles to grow. In any case, he said, it's not just about hair.

Hair follicles, after all, are organs. So what's learned from follicle research may help other scientists who are working to regenerate bigger organs like the liver and kidneys, Washenik said.

The same notion was expressed by Sinclair, who's testing a skin cream in mice that may alter follicle behavior by fiddling with genes. (He says he can't discuss the results because they are a commercial secret.)

Sinclair said follicle research allows scientists to approach not just organ regeneration, but also questions about stem cells, cell growth and gene therapy that may pay off someday in new treatments for diseases like cancer and Alzheimer's.

"The idea of growing hair on a bald scalp is only of moderate interest," Sinclair said in a telephone interview. "If we find the cure for baldness we're not going to stop studying hair." That's just great, Doc.

But if you do find the cure for baldness, lots of men would like to know.

On the Net: Stages of male pattern baldness:

http://www-ermm.cbcu.cam.ac.uk/02005124h.htm
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