Scientists have got to the root of gray hair – paving the way for locks that retain the luster of their youth well into old age.
In a series of experiments, they have identified a protein called ‘wnt’ found to be vital to the production of color in hairs.
The breakthrough raises the prospects of drugs, lotions or shampoos that raise levels of wnt – and restore white or gray hair to its natural color.
Such a treatment would save women of a certain age the need to make endless expensive trips to the hair salon to have their graying roots covered up.
It would also doubtless be popular with middle-aged men keen to recapture their youthful looks.
The U.S. researchers describe a series of experiments which reveal wnt to be key to hair retaining its color.
Writing in the journal Cell, they show that the protein kick-starts a chain of reactions which lead to stem or ‘mother’ cells in the scalp maturing and producing the pigment that gives hair its color.
A similar chain of reactions takes place in the human scalp, but the researchers, from New York University’s Langone Medical Center, have yet to prove that faults in the system turn people’s hair gray.