Scientists May Have Discovered a Cure for Grey Hair

It’s the tell-tale sign of ageing that men and women have tried to cover for generations. But scientists are one step closer to finding a way to reverse greying hairs without resorting to regular trips to the hairdresser. A team of researchers has discovered stem cells – which are able to develop into many different cell types – have the unique ability to move between growth compartments in hair follicles.

As we age, these stem cells become stuck in a compartment called the hair follicle bulge. These ‘stuck’ cells are unable to regenerate into pigment cells, which help hairs keep their colour, resulting in the hair turning grey. And the finding could one day lead to treatment that enables people to keep their natural hair colour without having to dye it.

The scientists, from the New York University Grossman School of Medicine, made the discovery after studying aged hairs in mice. They focused on melanocyte stem cells, which are also found in humans and control hair colour.

During normal hair growth, these cells move between compartments of the developing hair follicle and are exposed to different levels of protein signals. As hair ages, sheds and then repeatedly grows back, increasing numbers of these stem cells get stuck and are not exposed to certain proteins, preventing them from turning into pigment cells. A lack of pigment cells means the hair will lose its colour – resulting in the grey that many people dread.

The study, published in the journal Nature, revealed the number of hair follicles with ‘stuck’ stem cells increased from 15 per cent in young hair to over half in hair that was older. The team now plans to investigate the potential means of restoring mobility to these stem cells – or physically moving them between compartments where they can produce pigment and stop hairs from turning grey.

Previous research has found women who ‘risk’ going grey and stop dyeing their hair face being shamed and seen as less competent. Experts surveyed 80 women, most aged 40 to 60, who were part of two Facebook groups about the transition to grey hair.


Daily Mail
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