Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.
- follicle / ˈfɒl ɪ kəl / (n) – a small hole from where hair grows
Humans have more than 100,000 hair follicles on their head.
- cultured / ˈkʌl tʃərd / (adj) – grown under a controlled environment
Some cultured bacteria are used to study new treatments for diseases.
- promise / ˈprɒm ɪs / (n) – huge potential for success in the future
My students are very talented and show a lot of promise.
- scalp / skælp / (n) – the skin on top of the head where hair grows
To have healthy hair, you also need to take care of your scalp.
- topical / ˈtɒp ɪ kəl / (adj) – describing something, such as medication, that is applied directly to a particular body part
Some topical medicines come in the form of lotions and creams.
Read the text below.
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.
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.
• Do you think topical treatments with MiRNAs will be in demand once they become commercially available? Why or why not?
• Aside from hair loss, what other hair conditions should scientists study? Discuss.
• Do you think studies like this should be prioritized? Why or why not?
• If you could come up with a cure for any existing illness or condition, what would it be? Discuss.