Articles Tagged with: University of Calgary

Natural Substance from Beehives Shows Potential for Growing Hair

How serious is hair loss? According to a recent study, about 1 in 3 individuals who suffer with hair loss say they would give up sex for life, just for a new head of hair (i). And according to the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS), just about 50% of respondents to the 2010 Hair Transplant Challenge Survey indicate they would choose a handsome head of hair over more money or new friends (ii).

Given the statistics above, it’s not surprising that hair transplant surgeons are so invested in researching hair loss cures. Hair plays a big role in shaping one’s appearance; without it, one can feel different, insecure, and less confident in everyday situations. According to additional statistics gathered by the ISHRS, just over half of men and women who experience hair loss say that nothing makes them feel more self conscious than the thought of “noticeable hair loss” (iii).

Over the past few years, several studies have emerged that indicate a natural hair loss remedy might be in the near future. Most recently, researchers at the University of Calgary made a discovery that might soon lead to a stem cell treatment for hair loss. And for those who don’t feel comfortable with the idea of stem cell therapy, another new study might seem a little easier, and sweeter.

Propolis: The Beehive Hair Loss Cure?

In Japan, a group of researchers uncovered an unlikely new substance for helping hair to grow again. It’s called propolis, and it is naturally found within beehives. Inside the hive, propolis is a resin-like substance that provides natural insulation. Outside the hive, propolis has demonstrated the ability to function as an anti-inflammatory, a key characteristic that researchers believe makes it a good chemical for assisting with new hair growth.

Commenting on the study, Ken Kobayashi explains, “I expect that propolis improves hair loss due to inflammation through the anti-inflammatory properties and the keratinocyte-proliferative effect,” (v).

Inflammation and Hair Loss

Sometimes, inflamed cells can be the reason why hair follicles become unable to sustain a healthy hair growth cycle. Explains Kobayashi, “normal hair growth needs active proliferation[…] without excessive inflammation.” Based on this premise, Kobayashi’s team of researchers at the Hokkaido University in Japan conducted a study to see if the proactive application of an anti-inflammatory, like propolis, would make for speedy hair growth.

To test this hypothesis, the research team divided laboratory mice into two groups. Both groups were shaved, and one group was given propolis while the other group was not. As predicted by the research team, propolis encouraged a significantly higher rate of natural hair growth for mice in the test group.

Hold Off on the Honey

If you suffer with hair loss, it might be too soon to rush out for the newest propolis extraction or hair loss gimmick. Additional testing must be performed. Moreover, the mice in the experiment were merely shaved and examined for natural hair regrowth; no mice exhibited signs of hair loss or pattern baldness prior to the experiment. In this light, it is clear that propolis must be tested on subjects that exhibit symptoms of hair loss, like androgenetic alopecia (pattern baldness), before researchers can say with reasonable certainty that propolis can, in fact, act as a true hair loss cure.

Sources:

(i) http://www.statisticbrain.com/hair-loss-statistics/

(ii) “2010 Hair Transplant Challenge Survey.” International Society for Hair Restoration Surgery. Accessed 17 June 2013.

(iii) See above.

(iv) Miyata S, Oda Y, Matsuo C, et al. Stimulatory Effect of Brazilian Propolis on Hair Growth through Proliferation of Keratinocytes in Mice. J. Agric. Food Chem. 2014.

(v) http://www.mnn.com/health/fitness-well-being/stories/beehive-resin-could-be-a-cure-for-hair-loss

Discovery of New Stem Cells May Hold Future Hair Loss Cure

Researchers have long pursued the discovery of stem cell that could quickly and easily reverse the signs of hair loss. Such a cell would function as a proverbial “on/off switch,” giving hair loss physicians the ability to induce new hair growth across areas of bald skin. Men and women who suffer with androgenetic alopecia (pattern baldness) would not be the only benefactors; individuals who suffer hair loss following severe injuries, burns, or illnesses could also benefit from a quick and easy hair loss treatment protocol directed through a specific stem cell.

This December, a discovery at the University of Calgary indicates that researchers might be closer to this dream. Dr. Jeff Biernaskie, a Veterinary Medicine professor, published research findings in the December 2014 issue of the Developmental Cell journal that identify certain self-renewing cells located in the dermal sheath that play an integral role in managing hair growth. One day, hair loss professionals may be able to target these cells with specially formulated drugs to induce new hair growth in a precise and controlled fashion. Says Dr. Biernaskie, “We hope that we can ultimately stimulate these cells with drugs to replenish or rejuvenate the cells that are responsible for inducing hair growth,” (i). To understand how these self-renewing cells might someday cure hair loss, it’s helpful to first understand the role dermal papilla plays in overseeing normal hair growth.

The dermal papilla is a cluster of cells located at the base of the hair follicle. Dermatologists have long understood that this cluster of cells stimulates new hair growth via epidermal cells and the hair follicle. Exactly how the dermal papilla oversees this process, however, has largely remained a mystery until recently. Moreover, research indicates that dysfunctional dermal papilla are common among individuals with pattern baldness.

“When you lose your hair, particularly in male pattern baldness, we know the reason you go bald is because of dysfunction of[…] dermal papilla,” explains Dr. Biernaskie.

But what if certain neighboring cells could be used to resuscitate dormant dermal papilla? This question became the inspiration for the central hypothesis tested by Dr. Biernaskie and his research team. To identify these potential cells, the team used genetic markers to label individual cells within the dermal sheath. While monitoring the cells, the team made an exciting discovery: A small number of cells within the dermal sheath exhibited the ability to self-renew, creating new cells in each hair follicle. Those new cells included new dermal papilla, which ultimately have the power to facilitate new hair growth.

Commenting on the discovery, Dr. Biernaskie says, “We know that there is a small group of dermal stem cells in each follicle, we know where they reside[…] down the road, we might be able to look at different drugs that activate these cells[…] in order to stimulate new hair growth.”

Sources

(i) http://www.ucalgary.ca/utoday/issue/2014-12-10/stem-cell-discovery-sheds-new-light-hair-growth

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