Being a bald man can be a tough gig sometimes: broody chickens may often mistake your head for an egg; people will look to you for guidance in a street fight because you look tough; you will look even more tragic in a convertible car.
But there might soon be a solution—an antidote for the plight of baldness.
That's because a group of clever researchers from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center have identified cells that directly give rise to hair, which could lead to future treatments for graying and baldness.
Dr. Lu Le, at UT Southwestern said: "Although this project was started in an effort to understand how certain kinds of tumors form, we ended up learning why hair turns gray and discovering the identity of the cell that directly gives rise to hair.
"With this knowledge, we hope in the future to create a topical compound or to safely deliver the necessary gene to hair follicles to correct these cosmetic problems."
The breakthrough arrived after scientists found that a protein called KROX20, typically associated with nerve development, turned on in skin cells that become the hair shaft.
These hair precursor, or progenitor, cells then produce a protein called stem cell factor (SCF) which is essential for hair pigmentation.
When scientists deleted the SCF gene in the hair progenitor cells in mice, their hair turned white. When they deleted the KROX20-producing cells, no hair grew and the mice became bald.
Researchers will now attempt to see if KROX20 in cells and the SCF gene stop working properly as people age, causing the greying and hair thinning seen in older people—as well as in male pattern baldness.
Above is Dr. Lu Le, who isn't even a bald man!
A selfless and noble visionary indeed.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk.
* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.