Feeds

NO-SH*T CURE FOR BALDNESS discovered by accident

Shiny-topped mutant lab mice unexpectedly sprout rugs

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Boffins in California who were trying to deal with problems of stress in combat veterans say they may have accidentally found a cure for baldness. For now, the miracle drug is known to work only on experimental mice genetically engineered to go bald early, but there is apparently every prospect it will benefit humans too.

"Our findings show that a short-duration treatment with this compound causes an astounding long-term hair regrowth in chronically stressed mutant mice," says Million Mulugeta, UCLA prof. "This could open new venues to treat hair loss in humans through the modulation of the stress hormone receptors, particularly hair loss related to chronic stress and aging."

Mulugeta and colleagues of his working both for UCLA and the US Veterans' Administration (VA) were actually looking into ways of tackling gut problems related to stress, which would obviously be of interest to the VA – in charge as it is of looking after America's legions of stressed-out war veterans.

One stress-related hormone the boffins were interested in blocking is called corticotrophin-releasing factor, or CRF. They thought that it might be possible to tackle the effects of CRF by administering doses of a peptide called astressin-B.

The simplest way to check this out was to produce a load of mutant lab mice, specially modified to produce large amounts of CRF. These genetically stressed-up mice lose all the hair on their backs as they age, but the scientists weren't, initially, particularly interested in that: they wanted to see how doses of astressin-B would affect the mice's digestion.

Following some initial experiments, the bald mice were popped back into a lab pen with some unmodified hairy ones and left for three months. Then the scientists returned for some followup work, expecting to easily separate their stressed mice by looking for hairless backs.

Imagine the boffins' surprise, then, when it turned out that all their bald mice had grown hair again and could not be told apart from the others any longer.

"When we analyzed the identification number of the mice that had grown hair we found that, indeed, the astressin-B peptide was responsible for the remarkable hair growth in the bald mice," says Mulugeta. "Subsequent studies confirmed this unequivocally."

Apparently just a single daily shot of astressin-B for for five days maintains hair on a genetically-stress-bald mouse for up to four months – nearly a quarter of the mouse's lifespan. If the same kind of effects are seen in humans, a course of anti-baldening pills or injections might maintain a luxuriant uptop rug for 15 or 20 years – at any rate where baldness results from the action of CRF-style stress related hormones. Encouragingly, CRF and associated compounds are found in human skin.

Potentially good news down the road, then, for those humans who are bald and bothered by it: though as ever the fruits of medical research seem unlikely to come cheap. Patents on the use of astressin-B for hair growth have already been applied for by UCLA and the Salk Institute, both involved in the research.

Those wanting more detail may care to check out the scientific paper on the research, just published in the journal PLoS One. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.