A single protein has helped bald mice to get fur on the body, says a new study that offers hope for balding men.
Catherine C. Thompson and colleagues at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Maryland studied a gene known as Hairless, which encodes a protein that is essential for hair follicle regeneration.
In humans and mice with mutations in the Hairless gene, hair growth is initially normal. But once hair is shed, it does not grow back, reports the online edition of the National Geographic.
The new study shows that the mechanism by which Hairless regulates hair re-growth is by controlling the timing of a key signaling pathway.
Bald mice that were genetically engineered to produce the Hairless protein were able to re-grow a thick fur.
Lacking Hairless is a rare genetic disorder and is not the only reason why a person becomes bald.
But the findings could help scientists better understand the signals guiding the re-growth of hair. This, in turn, could aid the development of potential treatments for baldness.