January 27, 2008

Hair clippings can be put to better use

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It looks like even your hair clippings can be put to good use. Even if you feel that after a haircut the rightful place of your hair trimmings is the dustbin, researchers at Wake Forest University in North Carolina have a better idea. They have discovered a way of extracting a vital protein, called keratin, from human hair and turning it into a gel to repair damaged nerves.girl getting a haircut

Keratin is an extremely strong protein which is a major component in skin, hair, nails, hooves, horns, and teeth. It is difficult to dissolve as it contains a compound called cysteine disulfide. And if you ever wondered about the obnoxious and distinct odor that is emitted when hair is burnt, it is due to the presence of high levels of sulfur in keratin. Hair color is not determined by the amount of keratin present but by melanocytes - the same pigment responsible for skin color. For your information, each hair on your head is 97 percent protein in the form of keratin and 3 percent moisture. It also contains traces of metals and mineral substances in about the same proportions as the rest of you.

As keratin is thought to play a crucial role in nerve regeneration, the scientists conducting this research, collected hair from a local barber’s and chemically processed it to get keratin which was then turned into gel. They then tested this keratin gel on animals and found that it speeded up the repair process. With more studies and research, this treatment could be of use to trauma victims as it would help them regain movement in their damaged limbs. The researchers add that the advantage of using keratin is that it may be possible one day to manufacture the gel from a patient's own hair clippings as his/her immune system was less likely to reject it after being placed inside the body.



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