If you have ever wondered whether greying hair and losing hair are related, the short answer is yes, they are. A cancer researcher in Texas has discovered by accident that, in fact, they are closely related, in mice at least.
While studying tumor growth and development, Dr. Lu Le found that a protein called Krox20 not only affects tumor growth but also turns on and off skin cells that form hair shafts. When these skin cells turn into hair shafts, the cells produce another protein called SCF or Stem Cell Factor, which is necessary for hair color.
When scientists deleted the Krox20 protein cells, the mice didn’t have any skin cells turn into hair shafts, and their hair all fell out. When the scientists deleted the SCF protein cells from the skin cells, the mice couldn’t form color in their hair cells, so all their hair turned grey and then white.