Scientists have identified the cells that cause hair to turn gray and to go bald in mice, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center accidentally stumbled upon this explanation for baldness and graying hairs - at least in mice - while studying a rare genetic disease that causes tumours to grow on nerves.
They found that a protein called 'KROX20' switches on skin cells that become a hair shaft, which then causes cells to produce another protein called 'stem cell factor'.
In mice, these two proteins turned out to be important for baldness and graying. When researchers deleted the cells that produce 'KROX20', mice stopped growing hair and eventually went bald; when they deleted the SCF gene, the animals’ hair turned white.
More research is needed to understand if the process works similarly in humans, but it's said that this new discovery could have us leaps and bounds closer to our once familiar luscious locks.