After more than a decade of research, the team at New York University’s Langone Medical Center has discovered why we get gray hair. The study was conducted on mice because they have cells similar to those found on the human scalp.
Hair ages, falls out, and grows back, but the more this happens, the weaker the melanocyte stem cells become. These are the cells that contain the pigments that give color to our hair, and they reside in the hair follicles. The movement of these cells generates the melanin that colors our hair, but as we age, this movement weakens until it becomes blocked, causing the cells to lose their color and become gray or white, which we commonly refer to as gray hair.
Thanks to this study, scientists have discovered that it is possible to extract cells that have lost their movement or died and transfer them to other follicles that have greater activity in order to reactivate the cells and restore their original color.
According to Oscar Muñoz, a dermatologist specializing in trichology at the Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (AEDV), this theory is feasible: “What we know is that these stem cells move around in these compartments, and some compartments within the hair are more active than others, and we can try to move these cells to activate them.”
By changing compartments, the cells receive other types of proteins that are more conducive to the proper growth and maturation process of the cells, allowing them to retain their color and avoid graying.
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