Harvard Scientists Determine Elusive Protein May Be Key to a Cure For Baldness

Joel Eisenberg

A recent breakthrough, said to pave the way for a legitimate cure and not a temporary fix, broke publicly at the end of last year by Harvard researchers.

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Author’s Note

This article is based on science and accredited media reports. No medical advice is offered herein on the part of the author. All listed theories and facts within this article are fully-attributed to several medical experts, scientists, and media outlets, including Google.com, StudyFinds.org, Harvard University, ScienceDaily.com, and iNews.co.uk.

Introduction

Recent reports of a long-awaited breakthrough for baldness are promising.

Google.com features, atop its page resulting from a targeted search engine query: Harvard researchers say a baldness cure is on the horizon after scientists uncovered a protein that fuels hair growth. The breakthrough could lead to a cream that fuels an unlimited supply of locks for the follicly-challenged — a true baldness cure, rather than a temporary fix.

The above is a thumbnail Google.com excerpt of a StudyFinds.org article on the matter, entitled “Baldness Cure on Horizon? Harvard Scientists Discover Protein That Fuels Hair Growth.”

As excerpted from the article, which contains a hyperlink to the actual study: The breakthrough could lead to a cream that fuels an unlimited supply of locks for the follicly-challenged — a true baldness cure, rather than a temporary fix. In experiments, mice successfully sprouted three times as many hairs by surgically removing their adrenal glands. The small organs above each kidney release the stress hormone corticosterone, the rodent equivalent of cortisol. This stops the protein GAS6 in its tracks.

Science Daily references Harvard as a source for its own story on stress and baldness. See here for “Regenerating Hair Follicle Stem Cells.”

From the Science Daily piece: Researchers have identified the biological mechanism of how chronic stress leads to hair loss. They found that the stress hormone corticosterone causes hair follicle stem cells to stay in an extended resting phase, without regenerating tissue. The stress signal was first received by dermal cells surrounding the hair follicle, preventing them from releasing Gas6, a molecule that activates stem cells. When researchers added back Gas6, stem cells could regenerate hair even under stress.

Les us explore further.

2022 Status

In an archived June, 2017 article from MedicalNewsToday.com, “Baldness: How Close Are We to a Cure?” writer Hannah Nichols discussed the only two drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat hair loss: minoxidil (Rogaine) and finasteride (Propecia).

From the article, which emphasizes the drugs are managing treatments and not cures: Minoxidil’s use for pattern baldness was discovered by accident. Minoxidil was widely used to treat high blood pressure, but researchers found that one of drug’s side effects was hair growth in unexpected areas.Minoxidil lotion is applied to the scalp and may work by increasing blood flow, and therefore nourishment, to the hair follicles. The American Hair Loss Association say that most experts agree that Minoxidil is “a relatively marginally effective drug in the fight against hair loss.”

In August, 2020, Harvard Health published a piece on female pattern baldness. See here for “Treating Female Pattern Hair Loss,” which focuses on alopecia: The main type of hair loss in women is the same as it is men. It's called androgenetic alopecia, or female (or male) pattern hair loss. In men, hair loss usually begins above the temples, and the receding hairline eventually forms a characteristic "M" shape; hair at the top of the head also thins, often progressing to baldness. In women, androgenetic alopecia begins with gradual thinning at the part line, followed by increasing diffuse hair loss radiating from the top of the head. A woman's hairline rarely recedes, and women rarely become bald.

The recently announced Harvard findings were due to an exploration of the role of stress in hair loss. Alopecia and all general issues regarding baldness being closely monitored as it regards GAS6.

Conclusion

The English website, iNews.co.uk asked a valuable question as it regarded the Harvard study: Scientists have identified the elusive mechanism behind stress and hair loss – but only in mice. Will it work for humans?

Time will tell. As I myself deal with male pattern baldness, I’m personally rooting for this one.

Thank you for reading.

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I am an award-winning author, screenwriter for film and television, and producer. My mission on News Break is to share socially important perspectives on both culture and pop-culture. Member of PEN America, and the WGA.

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