Have scientists discovered a cure for BALDNESS? Stem cell treatment helps dead hair follicles grow again
By Emma Innes
Previously scientists struggled to create enough follicle-generating stem cells to produce noticeable hair growth but have now found a solution
They implanted mice with special stem cells which regenerated into different types of skin cells and hair follicles allowing hair to grow again
More work is required before this could be used to treat humans as scientists are only able to regenerate human hair follicles, not skin cells
Both types of cells are required for hair to grow back again
A treatment for baldness that uses stem cells to regrow missing or dying follicles may soon be a reality, researchers claim.
Scientists previously struggled to create a sufficient number of follicle-generating stem cells to produce noticeable hair regrowth, but may now have a solution to this problem.
They implanted mice with special stem cells which regenerated into different types of skin cells and hair follicles.
It is hoped that this technique could, in future, result in hair regrowth in humans.
Researchers started with human skin cells called dermal fibroblasts.
After adding three genes, they converted the cells into stem cells which have the capability to transform into any cell types in the body.
These were then converted into a cell type which is vital for hair growth.
The team demonstrated that by carefully controlling the timing of the growth of cells, they could create large numbers of these stem cells.
These stem cells were mixed with a type of mouse skin cell and were grafted onto the skin of immunodeficient mice – these mice had their immune systems suppressed to stop them rejecting the graft.
The research, published in Nature Communications, revealed that cells grew a working outer layer and hair follicles similar to those found in humans.
Dr Xiaowei Xu, from the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia said: ‘This is the first time anyone has made scalable amounts of epithelial stem cells that are capable of generating the epithelial component of hair follicles.’
It is thought that these cells have many potential applications, including aiding the healing of wounds.
However, the treatment still needs to be adapted for use on humans.
Currently, scientists are able to regrow the cells that make up hair follicles, but they are unable to regrow the human skin cells.
‘When a person loses hair, they lose both types of cells,’ said Dr Xu.
‘We have solved one major problem, the epithelial component of the hair follicle. We need to figure out a way to also make new dermal papillae cells, and no one has figured that part out yet.’
Further research is needed to find a way to make the skin cells and to adapt the treatment to humans.