ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Acupuncture Eases Side Effects of Head, Neck Cancer Treatments
Cranberries May Help Prevent Urinary Tract Infections
Indigo Ointment Benefits Psoriasis Patients
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Heart Failure Raises Risk of Fractures
In Elderly Women, Hip Fractures Often Follow Arm Breaks
Vitamin D Plus Calcium Guards Against Fractures
CANCER
No Verdict Yet on Grape Seed Extract vs. Breast Cancer
Yoga May Bring Calm to Breast Cancer Treatment
Adding Garlic Might Cut Cancer Risk
CAREGIVING
Distance No Bar to Kidney Transplants in Remote Areas
Late-Life Fatherhood May Lower Child's Intelligence
Simpler Sleep Apnea Treatment Seems Effective, Affordable
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Smog Tougher on the Obese
Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
COSMETIC
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
DENTAL, ORAL
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
DIABETES
Findings Challenge Tight Glucose Control for Critically Ill Patients
Drug May Not Help Diabetes-Related Eye Damage
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
Pesticides and How to Affordably Eat Organic or Reduce Pesticide Consumption
Licorice May Block Absorption of Organ Transplant Drug
Antioxidant-Rich Foods Lose Nutritional Luster Over Time
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Skin Woes Take Toll on U.S. Combat Troops
Golf Course Insecticides Pose Little Danger to Players
Heavy Traffic Can Be Heartbreaking
EYE CARE, VISION
Nearly 18 Million Will Have Macular Degeneration by 2050
Music Can Help Restore Stroke Patients' Sight
Guard Kids' Eyes Against Long-Term Sun Damage
FITNESS
School Phys. Ed. Injuries Up 150 Percent
Tai Chi: An Ideal Exercise for Many People with Diabetes
Daily Exercise at School Yields Rewards
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
GENERAL HEALTH
Parents Influence Sex Decisions, Hispanic Teens Say
Simple Holistic Approach to Fight the Common Cold
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Omega-6 Fatty Acids Can Be Good for You
Irregular Heartbeat Tied to Alzheimer's Disease
Soy Protein Doesn't Lower Cholesterol
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
School Phys. Ed. Injuries Up 150 Percent
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
MEN'S HEALTH
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
MENTAL HEALTH
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
Heal Your Life® Tips for Living Well
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
SENIORS
Seniors Who Volunteer May Live Longer
Healthy Diet Could Cut Alzheimer's Disease Risk
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
Spice Compounds May Stem Tumor Growth
Exercise, Weight Control May Keep Fibromyalgia at Bay
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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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