Scientists Unlock Secret to Male Pattern Baldness

A group of scientists believe they've figured out the "root cause" (ha ha) of male pattern baldness. It's witchcraft! No, actually, it's stem cells. And if you want to get rich off a "cure" for baldness, you'd better get cracking.

See, the "problem" with bald men isn't that they're not growing hair. They are growing hair! (Good job, guys!) It's just that the hair they grow in the areas where they're balding is microscopic and invisible to the naked eye. And, unfortunately, a giant magnifying-glass hat is just impractical.

So: What's the deal with these wee, stunted little hairs? This is where the stem cells come in. Balding men don't have as many mature "progenitor" cells—the kind necessary for growing luscious, visible, non-microscopic hair for braiding or styling or what have you. Without progenitors, hair follicles shrink, and the only hair grown is too small to see.

The good news for bald guys is that they still have the same number of hair-producing stem cells. So if someone found a way to activate those stem cells, and turn them into progenitor cells—with, say, a cream, or a shampoo—that person would have effectively "cured" baldness. And also made him or herself very, very rich.

(The other way to "cure" baldness would be to undertake a culture-wide re-adjustment of beauty standards. Or, to blind everyone! Permanently!)

[BBC; image via Shutterstock]