Scientists from New York’s Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have discovered a new mechanism involved in the hair loss process – one which they think could be used to stop hair loss in its tracks.
According to a study published in the journal Science, the part of the hair which surrounds the outside of the hair follicle, known as the dermal sheath, could play even more of a key role in hair growth than had previously been imagined.
What is the dermal sheath and how is it involved in hair loss?
Up until now, scientists believed that the dermal sheath’s main role in the hair growth cycle was in regenerating the dermal papilla at the base of the follicle.
However, this new study has discovered that the sheath actually works as a kind of smooth muscle, expanding and contracting to push up the hair shaft, taking the dermal papilla cells with it.
Dermal papilla cells are themselves responsible for signalling to the stem cells when the time has come to create a new hair, thus ending the life of the existing one, and beginning the shedding phase of the hair’s life cycle.
So how can this discovery help to prevent hair loss?
Well, according to the research team, one major cause of hair loss is when the communication system between the dermal papilla cells and the stem cells breaks down.
When the scientists examined this phenomenon more closely in mice, they found that the dermal sheath contracts when the hair enters the shedding phase, allowing the hair to fall out. Follow up studies have shown that something very similar happens to human hair, suggesting that if you could find a way to block this muscle and prevent it from contracting, then you could prevent hair loss from happening.
How quickly could we see a hair loss treatment based on this?
As with all scientific research, this could take a long time to come to fruition – further studies will be needed to ascertain that this discovery is indeed correct, and then the scientists would need to develop a drug that would block the dermal sheath muscle, which could also be a lengthy process.
In the meantime though, there are plenty of effective hair loss treatments already on the market – and if your hair loss is already apparent then this might not be the solution for you anyway, as it will serve to prevent hair loss but cannot undo the damage that’s already been done.
If you are concerned about your hair loss, why not call 0121 312 2999 to book an appointment with one of our hair loss experts today.