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  DR ELAINE FUCHS  
 

Dr. Elaine Fuchs is a Professor of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology and of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Chicago.

In November 1998 Researchers led by Dr Fuchs at the University of Chicago's Howard Hughes Medical Center, discovered a new approach to treating hair loss by using gene therapy. Scientists were able to successfully transform skin cells into hair follicles in lab mice through the introduction of a so-called messenger molecule containing the protein beta catenin. It has been believed told we are born with a fixed number of hair follicles and can never grow any more of them, however this study suggested that we now we have the capability to in fact grow more

While this research was very exciting, similar experiments on humans are not likely in the near future. The scientists have created some very hairy lab mice, but still don't understand how to contain the hair follicle growth process. According to Dr Elaine Fuchs you can actually go too far and cause the cells to grow too much which if left unchecked could lead to the development of tumors. Scientists still need to understand how this molecule is regulated inside the cell of the developing hair follicle to really take it to the level of clinical application.

The overall goal of Dr. Fuchs' research is to understand the molecular mechanisms that underlie development and differentiation of the epidermis and its appendages, and to determine how these processes go awry in various human diseases of the skin, including genetic diseases and skin cancer. As a protein chemist and cell biologist, Dr. Fuchs has focused on characterization of epidermal proteins, the keratins, and their genes. Through a multifaceted approach that includes expression of mutant forms of keratins in transgenic mice, she and her colleagues have uncovered the genetic bases for a number of human genetic disorders of the skin that arise as a consequence of defects in these proteins. This reverse genetic approach has led Dr. Fuchs' group to an understanding of the proteins that are specific to epidermal function. This work also has led them to define the genetic bases for disorders that arise from defects in proteins related to those studied in the skin, but whose expression resides in muscle and the nervous system.

 
 
 
   
 
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