A new form of baldness treatment may come be coming soon with scientists getting inspiration from the way animals both grow and shed their winter coats.
It could provide relief to half of all men who are completely bald by the time they reach 50, as well as tens of thousands of women who suffer thinning hair after the menopause.
Hair growth is triggered in animals both by hormones in the skin layer known as the dermis as well as signals from elsewhere in the body.
These signals vary with the seasons, which is why animals can grow thicker fur in the colder months.
Dr Cheng-Ming Chuong, from the University of Southern California, said scientists could harness this ability to create a new approach to treating human baldness.
“The hair-follicle stem cell is not only listening to the voice in the stem cell, but also the voice from outside,” the Daily Mail quoted Dr Chuong as saying.
Instead of trying to stimulate the hair follicle directly by implanting stem cells into it, Dr Chuong said a treatment could try to alter the environment around the hair follicles.
This could create the outside signals present in animals but long since lost in humans.