The latest research data has come in from a stem cell study performed by a team of scientists with NYU Langone Medical Center and the results are astounding. This thorough study allowed researchers to locate the mechanism which controls both an individual’s skin and hair color. While this may at first glance seem quite trivial, it’s actually rather profound. With this newly discovered knowledge, scientists suspect that the near future will see a time in which we will be capable of controlling skin and hair cells.
These particular cells are referred to as melanocyte stem cells. Researchers posit that alterations to skin and hair color can be made through the regulation of cell-to-cell signaling reactions. Since the reactions required are a portion of the endothelin receptor type B (EdnrB) and the Wnt signaling pathways, scientists suggest that stimulation of the EdnrB pathway effectively changes the hue of one’s skin.
For example, their experimentations on the wounded skin of white mice following this stimulation turned dark after healing. Alternately, blocking the Wnt signal and stopping melanocyte stem cells from their normal functioning development made the mice develop unpigmented fur of a grayish color.
The study’s senior investigator and cell biologist Mayumi Ito, PhD stated, “Our study results show that EdnrB signaling plays a critical role in growth and regeneration of certain pigmented skin and hair cells and that this pathway is dependent on a functioning Wnt pathway.”
Furthermore, researchers believe that the targeting of the mechanism in control of skin color could be a useful tool for re-pigmentation of cells ravaged by the skin disease vitiligo. This disfiguring illness is largely marked by a loss of skin pigment leaving each of its sufferers with a complexion of white blotches.
The very same technique may even be the premiere solution for those dealing with premature greying. As some cannot or simply will not use cosmetic dyes to mend discoloration, greyed hair cells may be resolved via this new method. Dr. Wendy Lee, the study’s co-lead investigator and postdoctoral fellow has announced the success of the mechanism’s involvement in the indication of hair color during their trials with mice.
Within two months, the team has managed to achieve an increase in pigment production 15 times that of previous experiments. These phenomena are known as “hyperpigmentation” in the mice. The team remains focused and resolved to continue their investigation into signaling pathways and the subsequent interactions between them.
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