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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Hairy Mice Hint at Baldness Remedy
24 November 1998 6:00 pm
A protein involved in cancer can also stimulate new hair growth in mice, suggesting a possible approach for curing baldness. The protein, called b-catenin, is part of a biochemical pathway that leads to most cases of colon cancer. But mice with extra b-catenin in their skin develop new hair follicles, a team reports in tomorrow's Cell.
To test whether b-catenin was involved in hair follicle development in embryos, Elaine Fuchs and her postdoc Uri Gat of the University of Chicago created mice with extra copies of the b-catenin gene. Before introducing the gene into the animals, Gat linked it to a regulatory sequence that would cause the gene to be expressed only in skin cells.
Mice with the extra b-catenin got new hair follicles even as adults. (Mice and humans normally are born with all of their hair follicles.) These follicles filled in the spaces between existing ones, but not did not appear where no hair existed before, such as on foot pads. On the dark side, however, the researchers found that benign tumors sometimes formed in the hair follicles b-catenin mice. Thus, while the demonstration that b-catenin plays a role in hair follicle formation is a "breakthrough," says Randall Moon, a developmental biologist at the University of Washington in Seattle, "we must be very careful" about b-catenin's tumor-promoting potential.
Because b-catenin activity can also contribute to tumor development, Fuchs hopes to learn which specific genes trigger hair growth, and how b-catenin activity differs in embryonic versus tumor cells. The question is, "can we separate tumorigenesis from hair follicle morphogenesis," she says. If they can, then perhaps her ideas about manipulating this growth pathway to cure baldness wouldn't be so hair-raising.