Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Hairy Business
01 July 2015

Hairy Business

From the tresses on your head to the tufts on your toes, all the hairs on your body grow out of little pockets known as hair follicles – seen here in a thin slice of skin down a fluorescence microscope. Each follicle works in cycles, growing over several years then resting and dying back over a few weeks. Usually when a hair falls out, a new one grows to take its place. But in some cases, such as male pattern baldness, this doesn't happen, and researchers are studying the underlying biological components for clues as to why. A small molecule known as a microRNA [a chemical similar to DNA] gets switched on when hairs stop growing, and might be important for controlling the process. Nearly two thirds of people suffer hair loss at some point in life, so this discovery might lead to new treatments to stop or reverse it.

Written by Kat Arney

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