Washington: American scientists may be closer to developing a cream to cure baldness or stop hair from turning gray.
The cells that make hairs and turn them gray were accidentally discovered by US scientists as they explored how certain cancer tumors form. The breakthrough could one day identify possible treatments for baldness and hair graying and also explain why people age, The Telegraph reported.
Associate Professor of Dermatology Dr. Lu Le at UT Southwestern Medical Centre 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.
The study found the protein called KROX20, more commonly 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.