News of the WeekDevelopmental Biology

Hairy Mice Offer Hope for Baldness Remedy

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Science  27 Nov 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5394, pp. 1617
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5394.1617b

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Recently, researchers have linked overactivity in one of the cell's major biochemical routes for relaying developmental messages to the nucleus, the Wnt signaling pathway, to colon and other cancers (Science, 4 September, pp. 1438 and 1509). Now, in work reported in the 25 November issue of Cell, researchers have shown that a key player in that pathway, a protein called b-catenin, can stimulate the growth of new hair follicles in mice. The team sees the finding as a possible first step toward a baldness remedy, but they will have to be very careful that such tinkering doesn't trigger tumors--as happened with their hirsute mice.