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Stem Cells: More Potential Miracles

Published: January 30, 2011

There is new hope for the bald. It had long been thought that hair thins and recedes when follicle stem cells disappeared in parts of the scalp. New evidence shows that this is not the case. Those follicle stem cells actually remain in place, but progenitor cells – the next step in the cellular mechanics of hair growth – are non-existent. It seems that a misfire in the follicle stem cells is ceasing the generation of progenitor cells. This is great news, because if science can re-awaken those stem cells and get them again producing progenitor cells then hair can be re-grown, something previously thought impossible.

Like a lot of things that are simple in principle, however, the devil lies in the details of how to do this. Stem cells going awry can produce cancers, so this entire process is going to need a careful review process. At the same time one must not bet AGAINST this getting figured out, as stem cell research has made leaps and bounds of progress in the last few years.

There would be a billion dollar market created were drugs to be developed that can safely grow hair onto bald scalp. The financial incentive is definitely working to further the interests of science in this arena, which at present has exactly two products proven to help hair growth: pills of propecia and topical preparations of minoxidil. Neither of these drugs work very well, so dammit guys, let’s get cracking!