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Scientists from the North Carolina State University discovered a specific molecule that stimulates hair growth.
At present, hair loss is treated with very expensive transplants and medications that require frequent application. However, many of the current methods are often ineffective. This prompted the researchers to explore alternative means to stimulate hair growth. They conducted an experiment with dermal papillae (DP) cells, which are cells that control the development of hair follicles, and discovered the molecule that signals hair growth. This molecule is a type of MicroRNA (MiRNA), which are molecules that regulate communication.
For the experiment, the researchers took samples of the DP cells and cultivated them in the lab. To activate the cells, they created an environment similar to the area around the hair where the cells are normally found. Once the cultured cells were activated, the researchers transplanted them on mice with bald spots.
Results showed that after 15 days, the mice that underwent transplant regrew 90% of their hair. The researchers found that the DP cells had a certain type of MiRNA that stimulated hair growth.
According to lead author Ke Cheng, the DP cells they cultivated showed great promise as a treatment for baldness. However, they need to be grown, preserved, and then injected into the scalp.
In contrast, MiRNAs can be used in topical treatments like creams and lotions. Cheng believes that medication made with MiRNA molecules can have an effect similar to DP cell treatments while posing fewer problems. The researchers are planning to analyze MiRNAs in future studies.