Animalia · Bio · Science · Technology

New Technique Holds Promise for Hair Growth

Scientists have found a new way to grow hair, one that they say may lead to better treatments for baldness. So far, the technique has been tested only in mice, but it has managed to grow hairs on human skin grafted onto the animals. If the research pans out, the scientists say, it could produce a treatment for hair loss that would be more effective and useful to more people than current remedies like drugs or hair transplants.

Present methods are not much help to women, but a treatment based on the new technique could be, the researchers reported Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Currently, transplants move hair follicles from the back of the head to the front, relocating hair but not increasing the amount. The procedure can take eight hours, and leave a large scar on the back of the head. The new technique would remove a smaller patch of cells involved in hair formation from the scalp, culture them in the laboratory to increase their numbers, and then inject them back into the person’s head to fill in bald or thinning spots. Instead of just shifting hair from one spot to another, the new approach would actually add hair.

The senior author of the study is Angela Christiano, a hair geneticist and dermatology professor at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, who has become known for her creative approach to research. Dr. Christiano’s interest in the science of hair was inspired in part by her own experience early in her career with a type of hair loss called alopecia areata. She has a luxuriant amount of hair in the front of her head, but periodically develops bald spots in the back. The condition runs in her family.

Excerpt from an article written by Denise Grady at NYT. Continue THERE

A picture taken on April 13, 2012 and released by the Tsuji Lab Research Institute for Science and Technology of the Tokyo University of Science shows a hairless mouse with black hair on its back at the laboratory in Noda, Chiba Prefecture.

Regenerative medicine repairs mice from top to toe. Three separate studies in mice show normal function can be restored to hair, eye and heart cells.

Animalia · Science

Drug Cures Mice Of Down Syndrome With A Single Dose

Cure Down syndrome with a single injection? Well, maybe–if you’re a mouse. A team of scientists from John Hopkins University and the National Institutes of Health have cured newborn mice of Down syndrome by injecting them with a drug that stimulates what’s called the Sonic Hedgehog pathway (so-named because in flies, a lack of the Hedgehog signaling protein causes embryos to become prickly, hedgehog-like balls).

People with Down syndrome usually have smaller brain volumes than control groups, including significantly smaller cerebellums, a portion of the brain involved in motor control. The researchers, led by Roger Reeves of the John Hopkins University School of Medicine, treated newborn mice that had been genetically engineered to have Down syndrome-like characteristics with a small molecule called SAG.

Excerpt from an article written by Shaunacy Ferro at POPSCI. Continue THERE

Animalia · Bio · Science · Technology

Conserved Gene Expression Reveals Our ‘Inner Fish’ – Human DNA Traced Back to Marine Origins

A study of gene expression in chickens, frogs, pufferfish, mice and people has revealed surprising similarities in several key tissues. Researchers have shown that expression in tissues with a limited number of specialized cell types is strongly conserved, even between the mammalian and non-mammalian vertebrates.

Timothy Hughes from the University of Toronto, Canada, worked with a team of researchers to investigate evolutionary alterations in gene regulation in the five different vertebrates. They found that although the specialized DNA sequences that regulate the expression of the genes seem to have changed beyond recognition over the hundreds of millions of years since the clades parted evolutionary company, the actual patterns of gene expression remain closely conserved.

According to Hughes, “There are clearly strong evolutionary constraints on tissue-specific gene expression. Many genes show conserved human/fish expression despite having almost no nonexonic conserved primary sequence.”

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