USC — How the Gene Wnt7b Activates Hair Growth

This year has witnessed so much new and interesting hair loss related research, that it is hard to believe that in just this one month three universities published major new findings!

I already covered the news from U Penn (hirsutism) in the US and King’s College (skin cells) in the UK in earlier posts this month. Those two findings were widely covered in the media. However, perhaps I should have covered research from a much lesser known team from University of Southern California in the US first.

USC scientist Krzysztof Kobielak and postdoctoral fellow Eve Kandyba along with other colleagues have published three papers this year related to hair loss.

Wnt7b and Hair Growth

The latest of these three (published in November in the journal Stem Cells, but publicized this month) focuses on how the gene Wnt7b activates hair growth.

Earlier work by this team entailed research on how reduced BMP signaling and increased Wnt signaling activates hair growth, while increased BMP signaling and decreased Wnt signaling keeps hair follicle stem cells (hfSCs) in a resting state. Much more can be read here.

It is also encouraging that this project has received government funding via the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

Ray Kurzweil’s Prognostications

Ray Kurzweil is well know due to his inventions, his famous book The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, and his ingestion of hundreds of multivitamins in an effort to prolong his life (end goal = live forever).  Many are turned off by such goals in a world where so many live in abject poverty.  In any event, Kurzweil’s recent CNN article is a must read.  The ongoing and coming rapid advances in biology are very relevant to the hair loss world:

In 2008, I attended the Singularity Summit in San Jose and got a chance to talk with Kurzweil in an informal group setting.  Ever since, I have always been keen to read anything new by him.  I am not sure what to make of his prognostications, but it is great to have optimistic super intelligent people like him and Dr. Michio Kaku (Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100) in an age of too much fear mongering and conspiracy theories.