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A) Progenitor cells in green. B) Progenitor cells in brown. C) Hair follicle that is rich with stem cell and progenitor cells  (Source: George Cotsarelis, MD, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine)
Researchers are looking to develop cell-based treatments

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have found that stem cells play a vital role in male pattern baldness. 

George Cotsarelis, MD, study leader and chair of the Department of Dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, along with a team of researchers, have discovered that the amount of stem cells on the scalp may determine male pattern baldness

Researchers came to this conclusion after comparing samples from men who were going through hair transplants. When looking at samples from both bald parts of the scalp and non-bald parts of the scalp, both had the same number of stem cells. 

"We asked: 'Are stem cells depleted in bald scalp?'" said Cotsarelis. "We were surprised to find the number of stem cells was the same in the bald part of the scalp compared with other places, but did find a difference in the abundance of a specific type of cell, thought to be a progenitor cell. This implies that there is a problem in the activation of stem cells converting to progenitor cells in bald scalp."

Cotsarelis and his team of researchers studied their theory a little closer, and found that hair follicles shrink rather than disappear in male pattern baldness. So hair is available in bald spots of the scalp, but it's microscopic compared to other non-balding parts due to the stem cells' problem with activation. 

Cotsarelis found similar results in 2007 while studying hair follicles in adult mice. He discovered that “re-awakening” dormant genes in developing embryos could regenerate hair follicles. They used wound healing in these models to manipulate certain traits, and by stimulating these once-active genes; stem cells formed new hair follicles. 

Researchers are unsure as to why stem cells refuse to convert into the progenitor cells to maintain a certain amount of hair follicles, but they remain hopeful due to the fact that both areas on the scalp have the same number of stem cells. That way, they can find ways to stimulate stem cell conversion and re-grow the hair in bald areas. 

In addition to this study, Cotsarelis and his team would like to study female pattern baldness as well for comparison purposes. This could lead to a larger understanding of why the hair shrinks in humans, and could lead to the development of cell-based treatments for male and possibly female pattern baldness. 

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How Long?
By Quinocampa on 1/5/2011 10:42:36 AM , Rating: 5
At age 42, timing is of the essence. I'd love to regrow my hair before I'm, say, 50? I think it'd knock those 8 years right back off my looks!

RE: How Long?
By MozeeToby on 1/5/2011 11:18:43 AM , Rating: 3
If you have pattern baldness (spreading from a spot on the top of your head) Rogain is 90+% effective. On the other hand, try having non-pattern baldness (spreading from the front of the hairline, back) at 26; short of doing restoration surgery there's no effective treatment.

My wife, who is actually younger than me, gets carded everywhere we go, whereas the same people smirk if I go to pull out my ID.

RE: How Long?
By tmouse on 1/5/2011 12:10:37 PM , Rating: 3
Totally correct.

Tiffany do you even remotely try to understand what you write (copy?)
This could lead to a larger understanding of why the hair shrinks in humans, and could lead to the development of cell-based treatments for male and possibly female pattern baldness.

I’m assuming this is your statement, in the article it clearly states:
"We were surprised to find the number of stem cells was the same in the bald part of the scalp compared with other places, but did find a difference in the abundance of a specific type of cell, thought to be a progenitor cell.

The stem cells are there so cell based therapies would be useless. Now inducing differentiation is another story but that would not be cell based.

For some reason the researchers seem to be confused regarding the terms stem cell and progenitor cell. They describe a lack of "activation" (I assume they mean progression) of the stem cells for the hair loss. While progenitor can be used to imply a lineage relationship from a stem cell it is confusing since it usually implies the first or at least a node turning point with the remaining cells being descendants. I do not know if that confused terminology is truly from them or poor writing.

Failure of stem cell maturation makes sense since minoxidil is both a vasodilator as well as an activator of prostaglandin endoperoxide synthase (PGHS), either could affect stem cell progression (the latter more likely). On a side note if one has pattern baldness they should also minimize the use of NSAIDs as these are inhibitors of PGHS-1 (PGHS-2 is the inducible form) which has been shown to accelerate hair loss (possibly by targeting PGHS-1).

RE: How Long?
By rs2 on 1/5/2011 5:38:21 PM , Rating: 2
Finasteride (Propecia) is available now, and highly effective. You'd probably have better odds with that than with waiting to see if this research leads to new treatments in 8 years or less.

And if you have your doctor prescribe the 5 mg generic version (Proscar I think it's called) instead of the 1 mg version it only costs a few dollars a month.

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