It turns out stem cells may save our skins after all—or at least our scalps. According to new research published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, the mystery of what causes male pattern baldness is a mystery no more.
Pattern baldness, say the researchers, results from a failure of the stem cells in the scalp to produce the right kind of hair—namely, the kind you can actually see and feel. Instead they start producing microscopic hairs that no amount of blow-drying can puff up to a manly pouffe.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that the stem cells are present and accounted for, raising hopes that a topical medication might be developed to restore the cells to their former hair-raising manliness. “The fact that there are normal numbers of stem cells in [a] bald scalp gives us hope for reactivating those stem cells,” said lead researcher Dr. George Cotsarelis of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.