Could scientists finally be on to a cure for baldness?
has thrown up clues as to why some men go bald, something that
could give both drug-makers and hair care manufacturers
opportunities to break the male pattern baldness puzzle.
According to the university, headed up by Dr. Denis Headon, the research team has uncovered the molecular process that determines which embryonic skin cells form into hair follicles.
The researchers say that their findings are of primary interest for research into the disease ectodermal dysplasia - a condition where skin cells fail to develop into tissues that determine hair follicles.
But secondary to this path of research, the stud should also help to determine research into male-pattern baldness.
"The research - while not directly linked to male-pattern baldness - should be of interest to pharmaceutical companies working in this field as understanding the molecular processes at work during follicle development could provide clues as to why follicles shrink and hair growth diminishes in certain men as they get older," said Dr. Headon.
Headon's team has discovered that the ability of skin cells to turn into other types of cells that form hair is determined by three proteins that are produced by genes.
"Our research has identified how one of these proteins working outside of the cell interacts at a molecular level to determine an individual's hair pattern as the embryonic skin spatially organises itself," said Dr. Headon.
The team discovered that cells given the genetic command to become hair follicles send signals to other cells to prevent them from doing otherwise, producing specific hair-loss patterns.
Likewise, the research discovered that by hyperactivating the hair protein in mice, the resulting offspring led to mice pups with more hair.
Currently the market for hair loss treatments is estimated to be worth $1 billion dollar, and is one that involves most of the major hair care providers to various extents.
An estimated 40 per cent of men have noticeable hair loss by the time they reach 35, a figure that rises to 65 per cent by the age of 60.
Although a vast array of topical hair loss applications exist, the most effective treatments are considered to be pharmaceutical products such as Propecia and Rogaine.