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Can you really fix balding by yanking out the hair you have left? Maybe, says a new study

A rather surprising new study has found that balding may be reversed in people who have their remaining hair plucked in a very careful way in order to spark regeneration.

Researchers stated in a paper that was published in the journal Cell that plucking hairs out of mice caused their fur to regenerate in a certain pattern and concentration, according to a Los Angeles Times report.

The finding could result in new treatments for a condition known as alopecia, which results in hair loss.

Cheng-Ming Chong, who is the senior author of the study and a stem cell researcher out of the University of Southern California, said the study found that while it’s not as simple as just ripping your hair out in clumps, by plucking hairs in a very small area, the hairs could regenerate, according to the report.

For example, by varying the spacing and shapes of certain areas where the plucking occurred, the research team was able to cause 1,200 hairs to regenerate in place where they had plucked just 200.

The researchers believe it has something to do with “quorum sensning,” which describes the process of cells communicating with each other and alerting that damage has occurred, which resulted in a collective behavior among cells that can spark hair growth.

The researchers used genetic and molecular analysis to determine what happened when a hair was plucked from a follicle, and found that the follicle released an inflammatory protein, which informs the immune system that a wound has been opened up, prompting the immune system to send what are known as macrophages, or white blood cells that devour pathogens, to arrive and go to work.

These macrophages release cytokines, which causes the cells to multiply. The macrophages secrete something called tumor necrosis factor alpha, which tells the plucked and unplucked hair molecules to start growing — although this happens in a dense area. Scientists tried it over a wider area and found that it didn’t work.