Researchers have discovered a mechanism that gives new cosmetic solutions.
They accidentally fell on hair progenitor cells while studying a genetic disorder that generates tumors on nerves, called neurofibromatosis type 1.
They learned how the hair became gray and the identiy of the cells that gave birth to the hair.
In the hair follicles of the mouse, a protein called Krox20 facilitates hair growth. Its other name is EGR2. It also allows the development of the nervous system.
The progenitor cells of the bulb possess this Krox20 protein. When it is absent, hair growth stops. Thanks to Krox20, the cells produce a protein called SCF which then associates with the KIT receptor. SCF allows the maintenance of hematopoietic stem cells, as well as melanocytes.
And, it is the melanocytes that produce the pigment that colors the hair (and the skin).
The researchers hope to be able to achieve soon treatments against baldness and white hair.