Baldness – it might be possible to cure baldness, permanently one day, read on to know. Scientists found how the Transforming Growth Factor beta (TGF-beta protein) controls the process by which hair follicles, including stem cells, divide and form new cells or organise apoptosis. The findings could open many options to provide new treatment for baldness and medications for wound healing.
Transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) is a multipotent growth factor affecting cell differentiation, proliferation, apoptosis and matrix production.
Apoptosis is the process of Programmed Cell Death. It eliminates unwanted cells. In adults, apoptosis eliminates body cells that have been damaged beyond repair. It also plays a role in preventing cancer.
In study it is found that a single chemical is responsible for controlling when hair follicle cells divide and die. This discovery could not only cure baldness, but also speed up wound healing since follicles are a source of stem cells.
Human body cells have a specific form and predetermined function during embryonic development that do not change. Understand this, a blood cell cannot turn into a nerve cell, or vice versa. However the case is not so with Stem Cells because they are like the blank tiles of Scrabble Game; they can turn into other types of cells.
Their limberness makes them worth repairing damaged tissue or organs. When one heals quickly from injuries, the idea is that stem cells allow it,
Mathematical Biologist Qixuan Wang new research gets us nearer to understanding stem cell behaviour, so that we can control it and promote wound healing.
Wang said, the liver and stomach regenerate in response to wounds. However, Wang’s team researched on hair follicles since they’re the only organ in humans that regenerates naturally and intermittently, even without injury.
The study revealed how a type of protein, TGF-beta, controls the process by which cells in hair follicles, including stem cells, divide and form new cells, or arrange their own death — finally leading to the death of the whole hair follicle.
The study also determined that the “TGF-beta has two opposite roles. It assists in activating a few hair follicle cells to create a new life, and later, it helps with apoptosis, the process of cell death”
Like with many chemicals, it is the amount that makes the difference. If the cell creates a certain quantity of TGF-beta, it activates cell division. Excess of it causes apoptosis.
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No research or study has been able to find the reason as to why exactly the follicles kill themselves. Few theories suggest it is a survival instinct like inherited in animals such as shedding fur to survive hot summer or to camouflage.
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It is observed that though a hair follicle kills itself, it never kills its stem cell reservoir. They just divide when the surviving stem cells get the signal to regenerate, and make new cells and develop into a new follicle.
If researchers can more precisely know the way TGF-beta activates cell division, and how the chemical communicates with other key genes, it would be possible to activate follicle stem cells and stimulate hair growth.
Because humans, like animals, possess skin with hair, perfect wound healing would need regeneration of hair follicles. With perfect control levels of TGF-beta in future, it might be possible to cure baldness, permanently one day.