Hair in the News

  Drug reverses one baldness type; is male pattern next?   CNN - October 19, 2016
In his mid 40s, Mike Thomas went bald. Not a "little bald spot in the back" kind of bald or "receding hairline" kind of bald, but almost totally and completely bald. He was diagnosed with alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease, and he was devastated. He looked, by his own description, like a "freak," with his eyebrows and eyelashes completely gone. He could feel it when people looked at him. Some of them quietly asked whether he had cancer.

First gray hair gene found, plucked out of research   CNN - March 1, 2016
Just like those first silvery strands that stubbornly start cropping up in an otherwise pleasantly pigmented head of hair, the genes responsible for gray hair have been evading science's grasp. Brunettes, redheads, towheads -- they all have snippets in the DNA they can thank, or curse. But for those robbed of their hair color, the genetic suspect was at large. Now researchers may have tracked down the first gene linked to gray hair, a search involving the hair types and genomes of more than 6,000 people living in five Latin American countries. They looked in these populations because they represent a good mix of backgrounds: Europeans and their sometimes fair or curly hair, Native Americans and African-Americans and their characteristic dark and straight or kinky hair.

Can Hair Act as a Sixth Sense, Protecting us from Danger?   Ancient Origins - December 28, 2015
Humans have ever styled their hair in a multitude of creative and symbolic ways, and the various cuts, colors and presentations reflected across the ages are nearly unlimited. But does hair serve us in more ways than providing simple warmth and good looks? There are some who believe that hair is directly associated with sensory power and it serves as an extension of our nervous system.

Are Tweezers the Key to Treating Baldness?   Epoch Times - April 10, 2015
Researchers have demonstrated that by plucking 200 hairs in a specific pattern and density, they can induce up to 1,200 replacement hairs to grow in a mouse. The team showed that this regenerative process relies on the principle of 'quorum sensing,' which defines how a system responds to stimuli that affect some, but not all members. In this case, quorum sensing underlies how the hair follicle system responds to the plucking of some, but not all hairs. Through molecular analyses, the team showed that these plucked follicles signal distress by releasing inflammatory proteins, which recruit immune cells to rush to the site of the injury.

Drug Could Regrow Hair in Some with Hair Loss   Live Science - August 17, 2014
Most hair-loss drugs currently available may stop hair loss, but don't cause hair to regrow. Now, new research suggests that a drug already used to treat people with other conditions could restore hair growth in patients with one disease that can cause hair loss. In a small new study, three people who took a drug called ruxolitinib daily for four to five months saw a complete regrowth of their hair. The patients had a condition called "alopecia areata", which is an autoimmune disease that causes the loss of hair from the scalp or other areas of the body. The drug used in the study is already approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat people with myelofibrosis, a serious bone marrow disorder.

Wavy vs. Straight: Physics of Curly Hair Teased Out   Live Science - March 3, 2014
The first detailed model of a 3D strand of curly hair has been created, a development that could be a boon for the film and computer animation industries, researchers say. Previously, scientists had no simple mathematical way to describe the motion of curly hair, including the way curls bounce as they move around. As such, many animated characters had hair that was either rigidly straight or only swung from side to side. Now, researchers at MIT, in Cambridge, Mass., and the Université Pierre-et-Marie-Curie (UPMC), in Paris, are teasing out the physics of curly hair. To build their model, the scientists used flexible rods to examine varying degrees of curliness.

The physics of curly hair: Researchers develop first detailed model for a 3-D strand of curly hair   Science Daily - February 13, 2014
The heroes and villains in animated films tend to be on opposite ends of the moral spectrum. But they're often similar in their hair, which is usually extremely rigid or -- if it moves at all -- is straight and swings to and fro. It's rare to see an animated character with bouncy, curly hair, since computer animators don't have a simple mathematical means for describing it. But now, researchers have developed the first detailed model for a 3-D strand of curly hair.

Your Hair Reveals Whether You're a Morning Person   National Geographic - August 23, 2010
Early bird or late riser? The mysteries of your sleep cycle may be unlocked by the hairs on your head, a new study says. That's because the genes that regulate our body clocks can be found in hair-follicle cells, researchers have discovered. RNA strands containing the clock genes are found throughout the body - including in white blood cells and the inside of the mouth - but human hair is easiest for scientists to test.

Hair Loss Disease: Alopecia Areata Genetic Origin Discovered   The Epoch Times - July 1, 2010
In an article that appeared on Wednesday’s publication of scientific journal “Nature,” Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) researchers uncovered the genetic basis for the autoimmune hair loss disease, alopecia areata. This discovery is the first step toward finding treatment for the disease that affects 5.3 million Americans. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune skin disease that causes partial or total loss of hair on the scalp and possibly other parts of the body. Normally, it begins with small, round patches on the scalp, but can progress to total scalp hair loss, called alopecia totalis, or even loss of all body hair, in alopecia universalis. The disease is highly unpredictable, according to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, as hair can grow back or fall out at any time. The severity and course of the disease varies greatly from person to person. There is currently no cure found for alopecia areata. Part of the reason is because past findings have revealed that genes associated with alopecia areata are also associated with other autoimmune diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes.

New gene in hair loss identified   PhysOrg - April 14, 2010
A team of investigators from Columbia, Rockefeller and Stanford Universities has identified a new gene involved in hair growth, as reported in a paper in the April 15 issue of Nature. This discovery may affect future research and treatments for male pattern baldness and other forms of hair loss.

Single gene may cause curly hair   PhysOrg - November 11, 2009
Scientists in Australia have identified a single gene that strongly influences whether you have curly or straight hair. The scientists, from the Genetic Epidemiology Laboratory at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) in Brisbane identified the TCHH gene (trichohyalin) on chromosome one as the major gene controlling the curliness of hair. TCHH has been known for over twenty years to play a role in the development of hair follicles. It is expressed in the inner root sheath of developing hair follicles.

Gray Hair Caused by Stress (Cell Stress, That Is)   National Geographic - June 16, 2009
Work or personal stress may make you want to pull your hair out, but it's cellular stress that actually turns it gray, a new study has found. That's because DNA is "under constant attack" by damaging agents, such as chemicals, ultraviolet light, and ionizing radiation. A single mammal cell can encounter up to 100,000 events a day that damage DNA. A single mammal cell can encounter up to 100,000 events a day that damage DNA. Stem cells are cells in the body that can reproduce indefinitely and that have the potential to "mature" into other, more specialized cells. The stem cells in hair follicles mature into melanocytes, or cells that produce the pigment melanin.