All throughout human existence, from pre-history to modern day, hair has been one of the most critical factors governing human self-image and self-worth. Human beings will often evaluate themselves and others based on the image they present to the world. Men are especially concerned with having a healthy head of hair. For men, more so than women, a full head of hair represents vigor and virility. Consequently, baldness or the loss of head hair will significantly alter the way a man perceives himself and believes others view him.
If baldness were any other disease alarms would be raised, and countless dollars would be poured into research towards a cure. In the United States alone, over 50 million men experience a partial or total loss of head hair. When over one-sixth of the population is suffering from a condition which can cause distressing feelings, negatively affect self-esteem, and lower quality of life, there is cause for great concern. Luckily there are new and exciting avenues of research that are proving to be fruitful in the fight against baldness. Recently stem cell research has become one of those avenues. Let us read further and learn how stem cells can cure baldness.
THERE IS HOPE FOR A BALDNESS CURE
Today more than ever there is mounting hope that the growth of human hair can be effectively induced with the help of a revolutionary therapeutic treatment. According to a team of top researchers at the University of Southern California’s Stem Cell Research, their experiments have proven fruitful in finding an effective method to grow hair follicles from skin consistently.
The study has now been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences where it deservedly garnered unprecedented attention. The team was able to accurately identify the exact sequence of molecular events that trigger the growth of skin tissue in mice and was then able to push their results further to induce the growth of hair follicles in shaved subjects.
THE MAGIC OF STEM CELLS
Aging individuals, as well as men who begin to experience premature hair loss, do so because their follicular cells lose most if not all their regenerative capabilities. This flaw in the regeneration process of the follicular cycle is what researchers are hoping to solve through the implementation of stem cell therapies.
Stem cells, by their very definition, are a class of undifferentiated cells that have the ability to differentiate into specialized cell types. Stem cells are unique in this capacity; which is why in the last 50 years, research into their medicinal and therapeutic applications has been so thoroughly evaluated. Find out more according to CNBC about Stem Cells Curing Baldness.
There are two types of stem cells:
Adult Stem Cells: Also known as somatic stem cells, these are found throughout the body and can be harvested from various different types of body tissues. Most notably, somatic stem cell research has focused on stem cells extracted from the brain, bone marrow, blood vessels, skeletal muscle, skin, and liver. Somatic stem cells will remain dormant for an indeterminate amount of time until they become activated by disease or trauma. Adult stem cells can divide and self-renew indeterminately; this gives the potential to generate various cell types from the originating organ. Recently, mounting evidence has suggested that adult stem cells are able to differentiate into any cell type regardless of the originating organ.
Embryonic Stem Cells: This type of stem cell is derived from human embryos that have been stalled in the blastocyst developmental phase. Between 4 and 6 days into the fetal development cycle, a blastocyst forms containing an outer cell mass and an inner cell mass. The inner cell mass is the part of the blastocys that will later differentiate into the various structures of the human form. From this inner mass of undifferentiated cells, also known as totipotent cells, embryonic stem cells are extracted.
STEM CELS AND HAIR GROWTH
Humans are continuously losing hair. Up to 100 fibers naturally fall off every day, only to be replaced by new hair fibers that grow from the regeneration of the hair follicle. Various factors can affect this cycling process and cause abnormal or premature hair loss. Among these factors, we find psychological stress, medicinal therapies, hormonal imbalance, physical trauma, and of course genetics. Stem cells, when appropriately stimulated can inhibit hair loss by stimulating the regenerative capabilities of the human hair follicle. There are of course potential for bad side effects for any treatment.
The most promising avenue of research suggests that human pluripotent stem cells taken from embryonic blastocysts can be manipulated to differentiate and transform into dermal papilla cells, which govern the natural formation of hair follicles and regulate the correct functioning of the human hair-growth cycle.
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