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Gene treatment for bald mice

30 September 2005
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 328

Scientists have successfully restored fur growth in bald mice, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports. The mice have a mutation in a gene called hairless, shared by both humans and mice, disruptions of which lead to changes in the natural process of hair growth, shedding and re-growth. US researchers found that by introducing a normal gene into bald mice, they were able to restart the process, resulting in successful fur growth.

The hairless gene was first identified in 1998. Scientists working at the Kennedy Krieger Research Institute and Johns Hopkins University found that the normal version of the hairless gene represses the production of a protein called wise. Mutations in hairless lead to an increase in wise, which if left to accumulate hinders the process of hair growth.

Half of men suffer from baldness by the age of fifty, although there are a variety of different causes. When the human form of hairless mutates the result is Alopecia universalis. Sufferers are born with no eyebrows, eyelashes or body hair although, in a similar process to the hairless-mutated mice, head hair growth is initially normal but once shed it fails to grow back. The group said that the research sheds light on the hair growth process, much of which is not understood. However, more research is needed as there are many other components involved in hair growth.

Barry Stevens, general secretary of the Trichology Society (UK), which represents hair professionals, said 'The thinking in the US is that there is some sort of genetic solution to hair loss. And I think eventually they will be proved right, but there is still work to do. I think it is like a giant jigsaw and pieces of research such as this will play a role. But the truth is we just don't know when the solution will be found, you cannot prophesise on these things'.

Key gene 'may reverse hair loss'
BBC News Online |  27 September 2005
15 May 2017 - by Annabel Slater 
Scientists have shown how a gene and protein cause greying and hair loss in mice...
5 September 2011 - by Dr Kimberley Bryon-Dodd 
Fat cells may hold the key to triggering hair growth, US researchers have found. They discovered that a layer of fat cells under the skin of mice sends chemical messages to stem cells, instructing them to grow hair...
10 January 2011 - by Dr Rachael Panizzo 
Faulty stem cells may cause the onset of male pattern baldness, scientists have found. Professor George Cotsarelis and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia discovered that stem cells are present in the hair follicles of both bald and hairy scalp regions in men with male pattern baldness...
20 October 2008 - by Adam Fletcher 
Two independent studies have uncovered a genetic variation that increases a man's chances of developing baldness. Professor Tim Spector at Kings College London, UK, and Professor Axel Hillmer at the University of Bonn, Germany, are the first to use a gene-hunting technique in order to identify traits...
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