Researchers have found how the TGF-beta protein regulates the mechanism by which hair follicles, including stem cells, divide and generate new cells or orchestrate apoptosis. This discovery was made possible by the discovery of how the protein controls the process. The findings may lead to the development of novel therapeutics for the acceleration of wound healing as well as therapy alternatives for male pattern baldness.
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A single molecule is necessary for managing both the time hair follicle cells divide and the time they pass away. Because hair follicles are a source of stem cells, the discovery might be used not only to treat baldness but also to ultimately speed up the healing process of wounds.
The majority of cells in the human body have a fixed structure and function, both of which are established during embryonic development. These characteristics do not alter. It is not possible, for instance, for a blood cell to transform into a nerve cell or vice versa. Stem cells, on the other hand, have the potential to differentiate into a wide variety of other cell types, much like the blank tiles in a game of Scrabble.
Because of their versatility, they can be important in mending injured tissue or organs.
According to Qixuan Wang, a mathematical biologist at the University of California, Riverside and a co-author of the study, “the assumption that stem cells allowed it in science fiction when protagonists heal swiftly from injuries”
According to Wang, “in real life, the findings of our most recent research bring us closer to understanding the activity of stem cells, so that we can manage it and enhance wound healing.” The findings of this study were published in a recent paper in the Biophysical Journal.
Both the liver and the stomach are capable of regenerating themselves when injured. However, Wang’s group focused their research on hair follicles due to the fact that they are the only organ in humans that regenerates on their own naturally and regularly, even in the absence of damage.
The researchers were able to figure out how a certain sort of protein known as TGF-beta regulates the process by which cells in hair follicles, including stem cells, either proliferate and generate new cells or arrange their own death, which ultimately leads to the death of the entire hair follicle.
“TGF-beta plays two completely different roles. According to Wang, “it helps activate some hair follicle cells to produce new life, and eventually, it helps coordinate apoptosis, which is the process of cell death.”
When it comes to a lot of different substances, the amount is what makes the difference. Cell division can be triggered if the cell produces a particular threshold level of the growth factor TGF-beta. Apoptosis can occur when there is an excess of it.
Follicles commit suicide for reasons that are not completely understood. Some explanations claim that it is a hereditary characteristic of animals who shed their fur in order to withstand the hot summer temperatures or in an effort to blend in with their surroundings.
Even in the event that a hair follicle destroys itself, it does not do so at the expense of its stem cell pool. “When the surviving stem cells receive the signal to regenerate, they divide, form new cells, and develop into a new follicle,” Wang said. “This process is repeated until the new follicle is complete.”
It is feasible that follicular stem cells may be activated and hair growth could be stimulated if scientists were to more accurately discover how TGF-beta drives cell division and how the chemical connects with other significant genes.
Because the skin of many animals, including humans, is covered with hair, complete wound healing would require the regeneration of hair follicles. This is true even for humans. Baldness is a problem that affects millions of people all around the world, and being able to manage levels of TGF-beta with more precision could one day lead to a treatment for the condition.
Wang remarked that “maybe our work could offer something to help people suffering from a range of problems.” This was in reference to the potential benefits of their research.