Science & Tech

Scientists discover ancient biology that could prevent hair loss in future

Scientists discover ancient biology that could prevent hair loss in future
Expert reveals how stress can cause hair loss
Cover Media - Shareable / VideoElephant

A ‘biological mechanism’ has been found by UK researchers and is thought to be the cause of hair thinning and could lead to a future cure for baldness.

It was in a lab experiment when researchers at the University of Manchester came across this link when testing to see if a drug could grow human scalp hair in follicles in a dish.

The study published in the journal Plos One found that integrated stress response (ISR) was the mechanism causing the deterioration of hair growth when over-activated.

When stressed, cells will pause or become partially dormant to adapt, and in this case for the follicle cells, it reduces the ability to grow hair.

An overactivated ISR can result in the cells dying and therefore fully stop healthy hair from growing altogether.

So the researchers believe finding a way to prevent ISR from over-activating holds the key to cure hair loss.

Currently, there are limited treatments for hair loss – some medications including minoxidil and finasteride. While others attempt to improve circulation in the scalp and stimulate hair follicles with laser treatment or alternatively, some get hair transplant surgery – but results from each of those can vary.

Around 85 per cent of men are affected by the time they are middle-aged mostly due to the hereditary condition of male pattern baldness.

Meanwhile, half of women by the age of 70 also suffer from hair loss.

How ISR affects hair follicles is now what the researchers are looking to further understand with the ambition to offer better hair loss drug treatments.

Dr Talveen Purba, senior author of the study, said: 'We're incredibly hopeful as we believe the activation of this pathway could play an important biological role in restricting hair growth in people with hair loss conditions, meaning that targeting it could lead to new treatments.'

Derek Pye, chief technician of the research group and co-author of the study, added: 'When we look at hair follicles under the microscope, it's striking how consistent the response is between hair follicles from different people.'

Dr Purba added that no current drugs are thought to influence ISR, there are some under investigation in other contexts.

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