Researchers “Accidentally” Reverse Hair Loss Caused by Stress

March 7th, 2011

Sometimes an “accident” in the laboratory can lead to a remarkable breakthrough. Penicillin, Botox, Viagra, and Minoxidil — the active ingredient in Rogaine — were all unintended discoveries that led to treatments for a variety of conditions.

A similar twist of fate, this time by researchers at UCLA, could lead scientists to a new hair loss treatment.

Mice had been bred to overproduce a stress hormone that causes them to lose their hair. The scientists’ intention was to study the effects of a chemical compound, called astressin-B, on blocking the effects of stress on the mouse colon.

What they saw, however, surprised them. The mice that were treated with the chemical had fully regrown their hair. After repeating the results, the researchers injected the chemical into young mice, which were similarly genetically altered but had yet to lose their hair. Those mice never lost their hair despite the fact that they, too, were bred to overproduce the stress hormone.

Whether this discovery will lead to a drug that cures common baldness in human beings, or whether such a cure will only affect hair loss due to stress, is unknown at this early stage.

For further reading on this discovery, see articles in Dermatology Times and the New York Times, as well as the primary scientific publication in the journal PLoS ONE.




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Posted by Robert M. Bernstein M.D. on March 7th, 2011 at 4:00 pm







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