Research Report: Hair growth discovery a surprise

Lynne Friedmann is a science writer based in Solana Beach.
Lynne Friedmann is a science writer based in Solana Beach.

By Lynne Friedmann

Salk Institute researchers, investigating how stress affects gastrointestinal function, may have found a chemical compound that restores hair growth by blocking a stress-related hormone associated with hair loss. The compound’s effect was discovered entirely by accident.

The experiment involved mice genetically altered to overproduce a stress hormone called CRF (corticotrophin-releasing factor). As the mice age, their backs become bald, making them visually distinct from control animals with which they are housed.

Researchers developed a peptide called astressin-B and injected it into bald mice to observe how its CRF-blocking ability affected gastrointestinal tract function. After five days of injections, researchers realized they couldn’t tell the mice apart except for their ear tags. The bald mice had grown hair.

The serendipitous discovery is described in the online journal PLoS ONE. News release at

Two hearts beat as one

The team from the UCSD Center for Transplantation performed a rare, life-saving cardiac surgery called heterotopic heart transplantation, in which the patient’s heart remained in place while a second donor heart was implanted. The patient, a Talmadge man, now has two beating hearts.

In the procedure, the new heart is positioned on the right side of the patient’s own heart. The donor and recipients’ left atria are surgically attached, allowing oxygenated blood in the patient’s original heart to flow to the new heart. It is then pumped by the new left ventricle into the patient’s aorta which brings new and increased flow to all parts of the body.

The patient’s condition was such that he faced two surgeries — one to implant a ventricular assist device (LVAD) — and then months of recuperation before receiving a standard heart transplant. Having the heterotopic heart transplantation instead meant only one surgery, which saved time, inconvenience, and pain, and reduced medical costs. News release at

Accelerating Research and Discovery

After only 15 months, researchers using the Triton Resource, a medium-scale high performance computing system at UC San Diego’s San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), are giving the system high marks for accelerating research across a wide variety of disciplines.

Featuring a 2,000 processor computing cluster, a unique “large-memory” cluster for data-intensive computing, and a high capacity, high performance data storage system, the Triton Resource currently has a roster of more than 600 users across campus and the UC system. Research projects range from cancer research and molecular dynamics, to global climate forecasting, earthquake simulations, and nanoengineering activities.

News release

Lynne Friedmann is a science writer based in Solana Beach.



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