ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Hypnosis Cuts Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors
Meditation May Boost Short-Term Visual Memory
Cranberries May Help Prevent Urinary Tract Infections
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Study Shows Exercise Shields Against Osteoporosis
Stem Cells Might Treat Tough Fractures
Using a Balloon to Repair a Broken Back
CANCER
Hypnosis Cuts Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
CAREGIVING
Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome
Hospital Practices Influence Which Moms Will Breast-Feed
Hospital Volume Imperfect Gauge of Cancer Surgery Outcomes
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
DIABETES
Formula Puts Doctor, Patient Glucose Readings on Same Page
Insulin Resistance Tied to Peripheral Artery Disease
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
DIET, NUTRITION
5 Reasons why you could gain weight while dieting
The High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) Debate
Brown Rice Tied to Better Heart Health in Study
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Accumulated Lead May Affect Older Women's Brains
Restaurant Sushi May Have More Mercury Than Store-Bought Fare
Clear Skies Have Become Less So Over Time, Data Show
EYE CARE, VISION
Vision Test for Young Children Called Unreliable
Diabetic Eye Disease Rates Soaring
Eye Problems, Hearing Loss May Be Linked
FITNESS
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
Football Can Shrink Players
Diet, Exercise May Slow Kidney Disease Progression
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
GENERAL HEALTH
Should the FDA Regulate Tobacco?
More Whole Grains May Mean Less Fat
Green Spaces Boost the Body and the Mind
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Omega-6 Fatty Acids Can Be Good for You
Most Fast-Food French Fries Cooked in Unhealthiest Oil
How Weight Loss Can Help the Heart
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
3 Home Habits Help Youngsters Stay Slim
Frequent Feedings May Be Making Babies Fat
Exercise During Pregnancy Keeps Newborn Size Normal
MEN'S HEALTH
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
MENTAL HEALTH
Massage Fosters Healing in Bereaved Relatives
Shop 'Til You Drop: You May Feel Better
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
SENIORS
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Any Old Cane Won't Do
More Whole Grains May Mean Less Fat
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Steady Weight Gain Boosts Late-Life Breast Cancer Risk
Health Tip: Be More Comfortable During Childbirth
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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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