ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Quit Smoking the Holistic Way
Cranberries May Help Prevent Urinary Tract Infections
Hypnosis Cuts Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Safe Toys for Dogs
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
Returning to the Road Tricky After Injury
Extra Pounds in Mid-Life Affect Later Mobility
CANCER
Study Cites Gains in Gall Bladder Cancer Treatment
Poor Women Seem to Be Skipping Breast Cancer Drugs
Selenium, Omega-3s May Stave Off Colorectal Cancer
CAREGIVING
Critically Ill Patients Lack Vitamin D
Babies Born in High Pollen Months at Wheezing Risk
Tiniest Babies Carry Biggest Costs
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
COSMETIC
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Health Tip: After Liposuction
DENTAL, ORAL
Scientists Find Gene for Tooth Enamel
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
Holistic Dentistry-My View
DIABETES
Abnormal Heart Rhythm Boosts Death Risk for Diabetics
Whole Grains Take a Bite Out of Type 2 Diabetes Risk
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Is Your Refrigerator Getting Enough Attention For Your Raw Food Success?
Adults Need To Get Thier Food Facts Straight
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Scorpion Anti-Venom Speeds Children's Recovery
Environmental Chemicals May Affect Male Reproduction
Freckles, Moles May Indicate Risk for Eye Cancer
EYE CARE, VISION
Statin Drugs Cause Eye Disorders
Contact Lens Cases Often Contaminated
Americans Losing Sight of Eye Health
FITNESS
Daily Exercise at School Yields Rewards
Exercise Key Player in Knee Replacement Recovery
Be Healthy, Spend Less
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
GENERAL HEALTH
Dr Churchill & Ashley Pelton Interview 1 of 4
Living With Less TV, More Sweat Boosts Weight Loss
What you need to know about swine flu.
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Lack of Vitamin D Linked to High Blood Pressure
Cocoa in Chocolate May Be Good for the Heart
Fewer Heart Attacks After England Goes Smoke-Free
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Obese Children More Likely to Suffer Lower Body Injuries
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
MENTAL HEALTH
Using the Mind to Heal the Heart
Chocolate a Sweet Pick-Me-Up for the Depressed
Psychotherapy Can Boost Happiness More Than Money
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
SENIORS
For Older Walkers, Faster Is Better
Seniors Cope With Sleep Loss Better Than Young Adults
Fitness Fades Fast After 45
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Natural Relief for Painful Menstrual Cramps
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Acupuncture May Help Relieve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
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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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