ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Know Your Asthma Triggers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Tai Chi: An Ideal Exercise for Many People with Diabetes
Taking the Mystery Out of Hypnotherapy
Acupuncture May Help Restore Lost Sense of Smell
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Beware of Dog Bites
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Vitamin D Plus Calcium Guards Against Fractures
Low Vitamin D Raises Women's Hip Fracture Risk
New Clues to How Fish Oils Help Arthritis Patients
CANCER
Study Cites Gains in Gall Bladder Cancer Treatment
Steady Weight Gain Boosts Late-Life Breast Cancer Risk
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
CAREGIVING
Health Tip: Benefitting From Adult Day Care
Mom's Smoking May Lead to SIDS
Few Hospitals Embracing Electronic Health Record Systems
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
Bye, Bye Back Fat?
Vitamins Do Older Women Little Good
COSMETIC
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Health Tip: After Liposuction
DENTAL, ORAL
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
DIABETES
'Standard' Glucose Test May Be Wrong One for Obese Children
Fish Twice a Week Cuts Diabetics' Kidney Risks
Diabetes Linked to Cognitive Problems
DIET, NUTRITION
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Coffee Drinkers Might Live Longer
Brown Rice Tied to Better Heart Health in Study
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Heavy Traffic Can Be Heartbreaking
Flame-Retardant Chemical Linked to Conception Problems
Pesticides on Produce Tied to ADHD in Children
EYE CARE, VISION
Brain Adapts to Age-Related Eye Disease
Certain Diabetes Drugs May Pose Eye Risk
Glaucoma Associated With Reading Impairments in Elderly
FITNESS
Consciousness Helps the Mind and Body Work Together
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Fliers Can Keep Blood Clots at Bay
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
GENERAL HEALTH
Internet Program Helps Problem Drinkers
After Job Loss, People Report More Health Issues
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
Whole Grains Lower Risk of Heart Failure
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Help Your Kids Stay Active
Frequent Feedings May Be Making Babies Fat
School Phys. Ed. Injuries Up 150 Percent
MEN'S HEALTH
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
MENTAL HEALTH
Meaningful Conversations Boost Kids' Language Skills
Mind Exercise Might Help Stroke Patients
Optimism May Boost Immune System
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
SENIORS
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
Video Gaming Just Might Fight Aging
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
How Much Fish to Eat While Pregnant?
Exercise, Weight Control May Keep Fibromyalgia at Bay
Iodine in Prenatal Vitamins Varies Widely
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Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow

THURSDAY, July 31 (HealthDay News) -- Scientists have taken a step forward in understanding the mechanisms behind a problem that has bedeviled many men, and some women, for all of history: hair loss.

The study identifies a key signaling molecule that tells hair follicles to start the hair-growing cycle.

"These are very complex molecular signals, and the authors have very nicely shown that there is one molecule, laminins 511, that is a very important signal to tell the hair molecule to move through the process. It's part of a basic biological understanding," said Dr. Ronald Crystal, chairman of genetic medicine at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City.

The researchers, reporting in the Aug. 1 issue of Genes & Development, feel the findings may one day hold the key to treating male-pattern baldness, as well as hair loss from chemotherapy or even to restore hair on burn victims.

But, as so often happens, the study was conducted in mice and, as Crystal pointed out, "Mice are not just little men and women. They are different than us and also different in their hair."

A series of complex molecular signals tell hair follicles to go through a cycle of follicle growing, hair growing, follicle receding and hair receding, Crystal explained.

The same group of researchers had previously found that the protein laminin-511 was important to hair development.

In this study, the authors found out why. It was originally thought that laminin-511 was made from the cells of the outer layer of the skin (epithelium) and acted on the epithelium.

It now turns out, however, that the protein, although produced by the epithelium, actually penetrates into the inner layer of the skin (dermis) to kick start the hair-growing process.

"So laminin-511 is an early epithelial message to the dermis to say let's start producing hair," said study senior author Dr. Peter Marinkovich, an associate professor of dermatology at Stanford University School of Medicine and member of the Stanford Cancer Center. "Hair is formed as a result of cooperation and communication between the two layers."

"We knew that the two layers of the skin are important in hair formation, and we knew that there was some early epithelial signal hypothesized a long time ago, but no one knew what it was until now," he added.

In mice, laminin-511 convinced hair to grow at the equivalent of about the eighth month of pregnancy, but Marinkovich and his colleagues are hoping it might also work later in the life cycle.

Male baldness associated with aging would be an obvious target. "The hair follicles are still there, but they get stuck in the cycle, so it's not well understood why they're stuck and . . . how do you get them unstuck," Crystal said. "The hope, of course, is that you can apply this to humans, but there are some cautions in all that. Biology is very complex. There are a lot of checks and balances. You don't want hair follicles and cells in hair follicles to be growing too much or not enough. The on-and-off signals that are dampening that and controlling that are very, very complex and not well understood. This is far, far from humans."

-Amanda Gardner

More information

For more on male-pattern baldness, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.



SOURCES: Ronald Crystal, M.D., chairman, genetic medicine, New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York City; Peter Marinkovich, M.D., associate professor, dermatology, Stanford University School of Medicine, and member, Stanford Cancer Center; Aug. 1, 2008, Genes & Development

Last Updated: July 31, 2008

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