nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Everything Is Coming Up Stem Cells...Even Baldness

The latest hook in promoting stem cell research is the suggestion that a defect in stem cells converting to hair follicle precursors leads to baldness.

You can read the whole study here, but it's technical.  To wit, this quote from the abstract:

"Cells expressing cytokeratin15 (KRT15), CD200, CD34, and integrin, α6 (ITGA6) were quantitated via flow cytometry. High levels of KRT15 expression correlated with stem cell properties of small cell size and quiescence. These KRT15hi stem cells were maintained in bald scalp samples. However, CD200hiITGA6hi and CD34hi cell populations — which both possessed a progenitor phenotype, in that they localized closely to the stem cell–rich bulge area but were larger and more proliferative than the KRT15hi stem cells — were markedly diminished."
Yada, yada, yada...

In common sense English, the problem with baldness is not a lack of hair; it's that new hair is too small to be seen.  If you were to look closely, hair follicles would appear shrunken and tiny hairs are present.  From the "macro" perspective, it looks like "no hair."

There are stem cells in the scalp that have to differentiate into cells that are precursors ("progenitors") for hair production.  If something interferes with the process of how these precursor cells mature, then the hair that grows is microscopic.

Soooo....if you could correct the defect in how stem cells become mature progenitor cells,  normal hair would grow (hypothetically).

The research, quoted above, documents that the stem cells are there, but normal progenitors are not.

Two comments:  (1) none of this implies that rubbing stem cells on your head will cure baldness, and...

(2) How about we concentrate our funds on stem cell research that cures cancer, then turn to baldness once we solve that?

Doc D

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