Men, women and in some cases children can be affected by baldness. Many therapies including topical treatments, hair pieces, wigs, vitamin supplements, drugs, hats, shaving away remaining hair or transplant surgeries are recommended as means of addressing baldness when it occurs. In addition to these direct therapies, a full industry has developed around the idea of helping people cope with hair loss including support groups, hair loss associations and counselors. Because there is so much money to be made from this blossoming industry, there are plenty of groups that are hoping to scam people out of hard earned money to get a cure for their baldness. However, hard science may officially debunk these other so-called cures. The University of Pennsylvania believes they have developed a gene therapy cure for baldness that could officially provide a permanent remedy for this issue.
Using Genes Therapy Cure for Baldness
Scientists once believed that hair follicles develop in the womb and you do not continue to develop follicles after birth. Therefore, when follicles are damaged or shut down there is no way to repair them or get them to go back to growing hair. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania believe that there is a way to manipulate genes to cause them to develop more hair follicles. Dr. George Cotsarelis and his team have manipulated a gene known as Wnt in mice that can be applied to a number of conditions, including treating skin conditions, wounds and hair loss.
Wnt helps to heal wounds and convince the body to grow new hair follicles. Experiments indicate that this process can be manipulated to convince an area to develop many more hair follicles than those that were present previously, effectively creating a gene therapy cure for baldness. To determine this effectiveness, scientists removed samples of skin from mice and increased stem cell activity in the sections the skin was taken from. Blocking Wnt in these sections stopped hair growth, but stimulating Wnt was found to heal the skin without scarring and normal hair growth that would be expected for the fur of a mouse. The follicles that developed in these areas acted like normal follicles, producing hair that looked and acted exactly the same as hair that was present in areas that had not been damaged.
Bringing Gene Therapy for Baldness Public
Technology that was developed to create this gene therapy cure for baldness has been licensed to Follica Inc. in hopes that they will be able to develop a public treatment that could be used to treat hair loss and similar conditions in humans. This could in theory be used to correct scalp conditions excessive hair growth or acne if the genes are manipulated the right way. The key to this development will be determine how to bridge the gap between how these genes behave in mice and how they will behave in humans. There have been initial reports that have worked to isolate the proper genes in humans which should allow for similar manipulation of natural follicles.