Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Licorice May Block Absorption of Organ Transplant Drug
Traditional Chinese Therapy May Help Ease Eczema
Safe Toys for Dogs
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Scientists Discover How Osteoarthritis Destroys Cartilage
Rheumatoid Arthritis Rising Among U.S. Women
Drinking Cuts Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Vitamin D Good for Breast Cancer Patients
Spice Compounds May Stem Tumor Growth
Many Alzheimer's Caregivers Admit to Abusive Behavior
UV Lights, Fans May Curb TB Spread in Hospitals
ER Less Likely to Diagnose Stroke in Younger Folks
Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds
Walk 100 Steps a Minute for 'Moderate' Exercise
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
Holistic Dentistry-My View
Vitamin K Slows Insulin Resistance in Older Men
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
Doctors Urged to Screen Diabetics for Sleep Apnea
Coffee Drinkers Might Live Longer
Teens Lose More Weight Using Healthy Strategies
Low Vitamin D Levels May Initiate Cancer Development
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Vitamin D Deficit May Trigger MS Risk Gene
Arsenic in Drinking Water Raises Diabetes Risk
Traffic Seems to Make Kids' Asthma Worse
Diabetic Hispanics Missing Out on Eye Exams
Eye Problems, Hearing Loss May Be Linked
Gene-Transfer Proves Safe for Vision Problem
Consciousness Helps the Mind and Body Work Together
Moderate Aerobic Exercise Lowers Diabetics' Liver Fat
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
When Clocks Change, Body May Need Time to Adjust
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Whole Grains Lower Risk of Heart Failure
Too-Low Blood Pressure Can Also Bring Danger
Psychiatric Drugs Might Raise Cardiac Death Risk
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
Stomach Germ May Protect Against Asthma
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Want Better Health in the New Year, Add Exercise to Your Day
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Soy May Not Lead to Denser Breasts
Add your Article

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

Copyright 2008 ScoutNews, LLC. All rights reserved.

More articles at