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Balding may be a stem cell problem
January 5th, 2011
10:07 AM ET

Balding may be a stem cell problem

If you're a guy who's lost a lot of hair, there may be hope in getting it back, via stem cells.

New research in the Journal of Clinical Investigation suggests that male-pattern baldness may result from stem cells in the scalp failing to give rise to progenitor cells, which are responsible for growing hair.

That means that a potential treatment could make use of stem cells to grow new hair, researchers say.

"Even in a bald scalp, there are stem cells there that you could activate to get new hair," said Dr. George Cotsarelis, chair of the Department of Dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and lead study author.

Hair follicles normally go through a period  during which the hair can become several feet long. In baldness, that period decreases dramatically.

In a man who has a bald area on the scalp, there are still follicles present, but they are essentially microscopic – making hairs that are not even visible.

Cotsarelis and colleagues found that bald areas of men's scalps had a normal amount of stem cells, but were deficient in progenitor cells, which generate hair.

The study suggests that if scientists can figure out the signals involved in getting stem cells to produce a hair, and focus on the process of stem cells leading to progenitor cells, they may be able to come up with a re-growth treatment.

Keep in mind, however, that this study was  done only in men. Women can also experience hair loss, but the stem cell phenomenon has not been studied in this detail with the female scalp yet.

This is the latest development toward an understanding of baldness, but not the only recent one. Last year, scientists identified a gene that affects hair growth.


soundoff (161 Responses)
  1. joe

    hurry the hell up.. I ain't getting any younger.. ya know..

    January 5, 2011 at 10:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Wzrd1

      Bald would be nice. No more combing my hair, no more barber shop visits...

      January 5, 2011 at 11:16 | Report abuse |
    • THE LeAdEr

      hahaha...u made me to laugh.. thanks dude

      January 5, 2011 at 11:19 | Report abuse |
    • Doc

      @Oblamea: Actually, the reverse is true...not so much testosterone going to maintain hair. " 'Scuse me, while I whip this out!"

      @Wzrd1: Be careful what you ask for, unless you love hats. The sunburns are hell.

      January 5, 2011 at 11:47 | Report abuse |
    • David

      Amen brother.

      January 5, 2011 at 12:40 | Report abuse |
    • Shannon

      LOL!

      January 5, 2011 at 12:42 | Report abuse |
    • kana

      Guys that go bald in the front are said to be great thinkers. Those that go bald in the back are great lovers. and those that are bald in the front and back think they are great lovers....

      January 5, 2011 at 12:48 | Report abuse |
    • DEADINSIDE

      LOL Good one KANA...Oblamea, I think that would be a different kind of stem research 🙂

      January 5, 2011 at 13:18 | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      PLEASE hurry!
      Man, I used to look like Brad Pitt or Richard Gere, now with my big mellon I'm looking like Dwight from The Office. It's a real downer for me as I know it is for others out there who wish hairloss was a choice and not a lifetime prison sentence.

      January 5, 2011 at 14:07 | Report abuse |
    • Bull

      Joe,I started going bald at age 16.So,like any young kid,I prayed for hair.Well, God has a sense of humor.I got hair.Not on my head,but everyplace else . "Be careful what you ask for".

      January 5, 2011 at 14:46 | Report abuse |
    • Joan Curtiss

      Come on, guys, what about us women? I'm soon to be a bald chicken. Devasting for us too. That would be so cool...to have my hair grow back. Farah Faucett style, please!!

      January 5, 2011 at 16:07 | Report abuse |
  2. NoGOP12

    It's all Obama's fault! First it was flying snakes, then someone cut down the shoe tree and now bald guys want to grow hair! It's the end of the world!

    January 5, 2011 at 10:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • dgfg

      Obama=Fail

      January 5, 2011 at 11:47 | Report abuse |
    • tim

      Obama rules, you morons

      January 5, 2011 at 12:12 | Report abuse |
    • NoGOP12

      @dgfg, It's kinda hard to succeed when only the offense is trying to win and the defense is doing everything they can to make sure we lose.

      January 5, 2011 at 12:41 | Report abuse |
    • CNN...harbinger of BS

      how about the birds and turds dropping mysteriously out of the air like meteorites in Ark. and Louisiana....I'd say OBOZZO's govt. is keeping the lid on more about that...I suspect it has something to do with the poison atmosphere in this part of the south that was poisoned by the oil spill last year, but the govt. will not admit it, lest it scare the dumb public!

      January 5, 2011 at 13:12 | Report abuse |
    • chris

      @CNN...harbinger of blah, blah, blah: Cue the conspiracy mongering. If the dead birds were the result of a poisoned atmosphere due to the gulf spill, the effect would not have been so localized and devastating to all birds in that very small area. This phenomenon has happened before, and plausible and even reasonable explanations are out there without having to delve into political coverups. Sheesh.

      January 5, 2011 at 14:46 | Report abuse |
    • OkOk

      Leave it to the demonazis to bring up Obama and then insult anyone not goose stepping to him. You people will talk about Obama during a Macys Parade. NOGOP12, How about no Demonazis for a while? Please move to France and help them out for awhile....

      January 6, 2011 at 09:02 | Report abuse |
    • NoGOP12

      @OKOK, there's only one fascist, racist, neo NAZI faction in this country and that's the right wing. So all of you bashing the left while collecting social security and medicare make up your mind, is it Nazi's or Commies? You're great at putting derogatory labels on things weather they're correct or not. I hope you don’t lose your health ins because they don’t want to pay for whatever it is you catch, Oh wait a minute! That’s against the law now, but the republicans want to repeal it. Or the stem cells that could save your life have been banned, see ya in France!

      January 6, 2011 at 10:47 | Report abuse |
  3. now theres a good reason

    Lol, now all the bald politicians will find an excuse to back stem cell research. I guess things like alzhiemer's and parkinson's weren't that convincing of an arguement. But ow that it directly effects their chances of sleeping with an intern, they'll be all over it.

    January 5, 2011 at 10:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • baldy

      haha

      January 5, 2011 at 11:20 | Report abuse |
    • baldy

      They give a lot of money to stem-cell research. The debate is over the ethics of embryonic stem-cell research not adult stem-cell research. All successful treatments today are from adult stem-cells. Even the founder of embryonic stem-cell research has abandoned it as a dead end and is focused on adult stem-cell research only.

      January 5, 2011 at 11:39 | Report abuse |
    • iraqistan vet

      Baldy:
      I am a biotechnologist ESC is not a dead idea that is far from the truth buddy.

      January 5, 2011 at 12:12 | Report abuse |
  4. FatDaddy

    Amen, Joe! We keep hearing about all these huge break through s but where are the products/procedures?

    January 5, 2011 at 11:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. John

    lol Joe! You said it brother. Man that would be so cool I hate my bald spot.

    January 5, 2011 at 11:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. penny

    can we also figure out how to stop hair from growing plz?

    January 5, 2011 at 11:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • bearj

      umm laser hairr removal???

      January 5, 2011 at 12:53 | Report abuse |
  7. barry

    They can test on me if they want!

    January 5, 2011 at 11:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. yenruogis

    Condition?........ Yes.
    Problem?....... No.

    January 5, 2011 at 11:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MyName

      Tell that to those who start losing hair in their teen years and have lower self-esteem because of it. Some people can take it in stride, but that doesn't mean you have to right to tell people how to feel about it.

      January 7, 2011 at 06:22 | Report abuse |
  9. T1pp

    I used to be vehemently opposed to stem cell research on moral grounds. Now I say bring it on and fix this dang bald spot on the back of my head! I should be forced to live like this if there is a chance for a cure.

    January 5, 2011 at 11:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. T1pp

    I meant "shouldn't be forced...." Darn my fast fingers!

    January 5, 2011 at 11:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. baldo

    Will it work on my balls?

    January 5, 2011 at 11:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rafael

      Yes. Assuming they're on your scalp.

      January 5, 2011 at 12:09 | Report abuse |
  12. Steve

    Yes to hair growth on the scalp! Now let us find a why to stop back-hair growth!

    January 5, 2011 at 11:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • LOL

      WORD!

      January 5, 2011 at 12:23 | Report abuse |
    • Joe M.

      Just do a hair transplant from your back to your scalp. :o)
      I've suggested that to my doc. They don't buy it. :o(

      January 5, 2011 at 13:58 | Report abuse |
  13. Mama

    For the millionth time the research is around men (cardiac, libido, etc.). For us women that are bald it is a huge deal. I understand a man's frustration at going bald (trust me), but at least it is accepted. You may not like it, but it's not unusual. Good gravy guys even shave their heads. It IS unusual for a woman to be bald. Do I honestly think I would ever be hired, or listened to, or taken seriously if I didn't wear hair? HA!

    January 5, 2011 at 11:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • gsekse

      I dunno, some of the ladies look rather cool with crew/short cuts and bald is ok on some.

      January 5, 2011 at 12:02 | Report abuse |
    • Rafael

      Suck it up and wear a sombrero.

      January 5, 2011 at 12:10 | Report abuse |
    • Bitterjack

      If a man wheres a wig he is ridiculed for it. If a woman wheres a wig, she receives sympathy. You are right, definitely unfair.

      January 5, 2011 at 13:13 | Report abuse |
    • Joe M.

      God shave the Queen!!!

      January 5, 2011 at 14:01 | Report abuse |
    • Timetraveler

      Turn to Islam. It's the #1 reason women convert to Islam.

      January 5, 2011 at 16:00 | Report abuse |
  14. Crazy Christian

    But what would God think? I say stop this practice immediately. If God wanted people to have hair, they wouldn't lose it in the first place. Quick everyone... we need to pray.

    January 5, 2011 at 11:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cato

      I can't tell if you're being facetious or not (I hope so), but if not, riddle me this: If God doesn't want people who've been saved by organ transplants to live, or people who were brought back through various medical means such as CPR, or even a Heimlich maneuver, to live, then a.) why are they alive? If He can do what he wants, they're going to expire, if that's what He wants. And b). why did He give that knowledge, or the ability to learn it, to us?

      January 5, 2011 at 11:55 | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Cato: He is being facetious. As to the rest, lokk up "common grace." God gives grace to all of humanity, for example the rain causes the crops to grow for everyone, not just the select few. He gives us understanding for our betterment and health. So of the biblical commands strart with "If you would live ling...." etc. He can take life any time he wants, but that does not preclude the grace that alloes us to live longer theough medical innovation. They are not mutually exclusive.

      January 5, 2011 at 12:03 | Report abuse |
    • Timetraveler

      Pssst... there is no god. Deal with it.

      January 5, 2011 at 16:03 | Report abuse |
  15. Nature

    Can it fix the cruelties of nature? Nothing like being bald on top but growing hair most every place else.

    January 5, 2011 at 11:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. tooty

    LOL the vanity of men... bet they cure this before they cure cancer, AIDS, or the common cold!

    January 5, 2011 at 11:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • iraqistan vet

      Probably would since it is far less complicated believe me.

      January 5, 2011 at 12:16 | Report abuse |
  17. GeorgeCostanza

    Sign me up!! That stuff i got from china never worked anyway

    January 5, 2011 at 11:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • CNN...harbinger of BS

      I wonder of the OBOZZO chia pets have been geared to grow HAR by stem cells...?

      January 5, 2011 at 13:14 | Report abuse |
  18. Rich

    Sky daddy will be very angry with you if you use stem cells to grow your hair back!

    January 5, 2011 at 11:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • baldy

      "Sky god" believers and many other "non-sky god believer" ethicists aren't opposed to adult stem-cell research, just embryonic stem-cell research.

      January 5, 2011 at 11:43 | Report abuse |
    • Rich

      @baldy and many "non-sky god believer" ethicists aren't opposed to embryonic stem-cell research.

      January 5, 2011 at 11:53 | Report abuse |
  19. Pitt Cairn

    Stories like this make me pull out what's left of my hair....

    January 5, 2011 at 11:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Lobna

    ilikecnnnews

    January 5, 2011 at 11:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. palintwit

    I understand that Sarah Palin has a bald Alaskan beaver.

    January 5, 2011 at 11:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ColoradohatesPalin

      Yes!

      January 5, 2011 at 12:33 | Report abuse |
    • CNN...harbinger of BS

      look Sarah Palin is slack in the brain dept. but don't knock her beaver...I could stand a good long SNIFF on it!!!

      January 5, 2011 at 13:20 | Report abuse |
    • JoeBarelyCares

      That wasn't really Palin in the movie, it was Lee Ann.

      January 5, 2011 at 13:58 | Report abuse |
  22. Mike

    How about this: balding is not a problem at all! As a species, we are losing our hair. Balding men are further along the evolutionary scale. American culture has created this myth to create a market for snake oil "cures" for balding; just like the fashion industry has made skinny so chique that you have to be anorexic to get a job as a model !Absolutey ridiculous!

    January 5, 2011 at 11:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rafael

      Ha ha, you're fat and bald!

      January 5, 2011 at 12:13 | Report abuse |
    • Gatsby

      You don't know too much about how evolution works do you?

      January 5, 2011 at 13:06 | Report abuse |
    • Thatguy371

      Mike: "...Balding men are further along the evolutionary scale..."

      WRONG. There are plenty of stupid bald guys. Bald comes from an overabundance of testosterone in the body. Moron.

      January 5, 2011 at 13:53 | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Thatguy371, Sounds to me like hairy dudes have a testoserone deficiency.

      January 5, 2011 at 14:05 | Report abuse |
  23. james

    This same report, from the same doctor from University of Pennsylvania was published on CNN.com in 2006. Google it and see for yourself. Also you will find articles from 2006 about this same experiment and doctor that will go on....and on.....and on about how these stem cells can be reactivated and how this will potentially cure baldness and then gives the standard disclaimer – "don't be too excited, Dr. Dickface says it will be another 5 years before we see anything on the market".. Hmm 2011 minus 2006 ... 5 years... and we get the same stupid story posted. wow

    January 5, 2011 at 11:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Scott

      LMAO James. Too true. Oh well, thanks for the laugh, I needed it.

      January 5, 2011 at 13:34 | Report abuse |
  24. Joshua Ludd

    Finally.. something that might make all the pasty, balding conservatives that oppose the death of cells get on board with stem cell research.

    January 5, 2011 at 11:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. james

    CNN took down the page from 5 years ago. but just to proove to you this is old news – http://www.sciencefriday.com/newsbriefs/read/117

    January 5, 2011 at 11:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. james

    May 17, 2007 – almost 4 years ago... same dam story about the sam dam doctor. he's full of it

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070516133023.htm

    January 5, 2011 at 11:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rafael

      Those articles have nothing to do with this one. You're a lunatic. Probably a bald lunatic.

      January 5, 2011 at 12:15 | Report abuse |
  27. John

    perhaps they can use the stem cells off my ears, back and butt, they seem to grow hair just fine now!

    January 5, 2011 at 11:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Ted

    And this study was funded by Supercuts.

    I am bald and 42, I love it, I don't think I want my hair back.

    January 5, 2011 at 12:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sean

      But what about your mojo?

      January 5, 2011 at 13:32 | Report abuse |
  29. ryan

    James this is NEW research from the same doctor. The previous research involved wounds generating hair. this involves activating specific stem cells.

    January 5, 2011 at 12:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Chris

    I wish my face would go bald, then I wouldn't have to shave it everyday.

    January 5, 2011 at 12:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. FingersXd

    This is a breakthrough that is made just in time for me.I've started to lose hair ,where there was dark thick hair there are very tiny blonde hair. This article indicates that everyone has stem cells related to hair follicles. The cream will somehow reactivate the stem cells that are already in the scalp to make the hair follicles regrow hair.

    January 5, 2011 at 12:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • CNN...harbinger of BS

      don't get ur hopes up...u will be dead long before the approximately 50 or more years until this BS proclamation by CNN is REALITY!

      January 5, 2011 at 13:09 | Report abuse |
  32. Burbank

    Once again the research is only done on men. How long did it take for studies to eventually be done on female heart attacks? Women also lose hair, it tends to be an overall thinning rather than balding in patches. That's why you see a lot of older women wearing wigs. They aren't being too lazy to care for their hair, they don't have enough hair to be worth styling.

    January 5, 2011 at 13:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • meemee

      Female heart attacks have only recently increased to replace other, later life disease processes in the percentage due to women taking more of the sorts of high stress jobs that men used to dominate. And as a doctor I can tell you, the difference between a male and female heart and the causes of heart disease are not mutually exclusive. So if they study heart disease, like cancer, everyone is benefiting. In fact, much more funding and research is done on female specific diseases than for men for a long time now.

      January 5, 2011 at 16:36 | Report abuse |
  33. finger

    What do you call a row of rabbits walking backwards? A receding hare line!

    January 5, 2011 at 13:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. CNN...harbinger of BS

    Amazes me how much crap CNN can conjure up when there is no newz fit to print. This type of research and development is light years away at best, and CNN talks like the cure will be here tomorrow! What needs to be done is stem cell research that can put a brain in OBOZZO's skull so he can awake and carry on like a president should!

    January 5, 2011 at 13:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • palintwit

      Actually, here in Michigan things are picking up. The autos have brought thousands back from layoff and have hired thousands more. Homes are selling as well. All thanks to Obama's stimulus package. Stock market way up too. he's doing just fine.

      January 5, 2011 at 13:09 | Report abuse |
    • CNN...harbinger of BS

      show that to me goin on in the rest of the 49....maybe Michigan is just near OBOZZO's old stomping ground...and BTW, quite a few gazillion dollarinis were poured ur way into GM that the rest of the 49 did not recieve save for the banks...have u forgotten that already???

      January 5, 2011 at 13:17 | Report abuse |
    • Thatguy371

      "CNN...harbinger of BS: Amazes me how much crap CNN can conjure up when there is no newz fit to print. This type of research and development is light years away at best, and CNN talks like the cure will be here tomorrow! What needs to be done is stem cell research that can put a brain in OBOZZO's skull so he can awake and carry on like a president should!"

      So, I guess your moniker is correct... after all, they let your bitter stupid rear end on here to spew a load of idiotic repooplican venom. That's the epitome of harboring b.s.

      January 5, 2011 at 13:46 | Report abuse |
    • stejo

      ouch! hate much?

      January 5, 2011 at 15:12 | Report abuse |
  35. finger

    How much for a haircut? Barber: Fifteen dollars. How much for a shave? Barber: Ten dollars. Right – shave my head.

    January 5, 2011 at 13:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • CNN...harbinger of BS

      and shave my BAWLZ!!!

      January 5, 2011 at 13:18 | Report abuse |
  36. Josh

    Gee, I can just see it how. An "underground" market for this stuff in Jr High. Boys smearing it on their private area, and even on their chests, and bingol!, instant puberty.

    January 5, 2011 at 13:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. finger

    Why do polo bears like bald men ? Because they have a great, white, bear place !

    January 5, 2011 at 13:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • meemee

      Wow, bears that play polo, I didn't know that.

      January 5, 2011 at 16:30 | Report abuse |
  38. Josh

    And the new college fraternity prank. Wait for someone unsuspecting guy to pass out drunk, and spread this stuff all over his back.

    January 5, 2011 at 13:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. finger

    What do you call a pen with no hair ? A bald point !...

    January 5, 2011 at 13:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. finger

    Better yet, spread it on a hairless cat and get it to grow some curly human hair!

    January 5, 2011 at 13:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. leo

    I find it interesting how people crack jokes at guys losing their hair and wanting a solution...
    BUT ff women went bald at the age of 30 like some men...there would be marathons/product endorsements/parades/football players would wear ribbons..obama would sign a billion dollar bill dedicated to hair loss research.
    since hairloss is mostly a GUY problem..it gets swept under the rug and people say...well it is something guys just have to deal with..sucks being a guy

    January 5, 2011 at 13:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • stejo

      and we die sooner, but then, who wants to live with a bald head?

      January 5, 2011 at 15:13 | Report abuse |
  42. finger

    being bald beats the hell out of bleading from your @#$% once a month!

    January 5, 2011 at 13:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • YOUR MOM

      But your @%$! sure gives you power!

      January 5, 2011 at 16:38 | Report abuse |
  43. CP

    I see this as reason enough for Republicans to support embryonic stem-cell research. After all, balding white men make up almost 99% of the GOP, don't they?

    January 5, 2011 at 13:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • YOUR MOM

      Bet the black basketball players have something to say about this!

      January 5, 2011 at 16:40 | Report abuse |
  44. Jamshid

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/potential-baldness-cure-leads-man-to-reverse-posit,1151/

    January 5, 2011 at 13:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Didnotvote4rickscottinflorida

    I think it's awesome that there's hope.

    I'll bet Fraud Rick Scott (Florida's new crooked governor) and all bald republicans will now jump on board the Stem Cell Research wagon. You know, 'cause if it benefits them in some way, they're all for it.

    January 5, 2011 at 13:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Thatguy371

    Get this project crankin' dammit. I'm tired of the chrome dome look, and I refuse to shave my head and wear one earring and a tattoo.

    January 5, 2011 at 13:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Scott

    When Dr. Dickface finally develops, patents, and mass produces a usable product 30+ years from now...instead of offering nothing but an empty pipe dream in hopes of winning some extra grant money to blow on a Hawaiin vacation, I'm going to stock pile the crap and drench him in it until he looks like the damn Wolfman.

    January 5, 2011 at 13:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Data

    If they couldn't cure Jean-Luc Picard of his baldness in the 24th century I see no hope of this working.

    January 5, 2011 at 13:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. JoeBarelyCares

    A cure for baldness is over 300 years away, every Trekkee knows this, as Cap'n Jean-Luc Picard is still bald in the 24th century.

    January 5, 2011 at 13:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. karek40

    Whoever does this first is going to be very very rich. Wish I could purchase some stock in this venture.

    January 5, 2011 at 13:59 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.