Columbia University Medical Center and University of Durham scientists collaborated to bring us a step closer to cure baldness (2013, October 21). Bald guys be patient. This step closer to a cure in mice may reach humans. Hair regeneration method is first to induce new human hair growth. Many laboratories are working on curing baldness. Growing hair follicle cells further in the laboratory are proving frustrating. This laboratory circumvented that hurdle by using specific cells called dermal papillae cells and figuring out how the cells “speak” to each other and other cells around them to create a hair follicle. For the first time, researchers have been able to take human dermal papilla cells (those inside the base of human hair follicles) and use them to create new hairs. Dermal papillae cells are embedded in a rich, matrix at the base of the hair follicle and are essential for induction and maintenance of hair growth.
The study was published today in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) on October 21st, 2013, which you may click here to read.
The significance of this study, briefly quoted below, is that it has the potential to grow new hair using a patient’s own cells – providing a personalized hair growth solution for baldness, says co-study leader Angela M. Christiano. Additionally, according to co-study leader Dr. Jahoda, this is an important step toward the goal of creating a replacement skin that contains hair follicles for use with, for example, burn patients
Growth of de novo hair follicles in adult skin occurs by a process known as hair neogenesis. One way of initiating neogenesis is to place dermal papillae isolated from the hair follicle in contact with an overlying epidermis where they reprogram the epidermis to adopt a follicular fate. This approach, however, has not been successful using cultured human dermal papilla cells in human skin because the cells lose their ability to induce hair growth after expansion in vitro. In this paper, we demonstrate that by manipulating cell culture conditions to establish three-dimensional papilla spheroids, we restore dermal papilla inductivity. We also use several systems biology approaches to gain a comprehensive understanding of the molecular mechanisms that underlie this regenerative process.
Similar baldness research in other laboratories
For years, scientists had thought that people suffering from hair loss had a depletion of hair follicles and follicle stem cells, which are necessary to grow hair. Dr. George Cotsarelis, a professor of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania, published a study showing that bald people have the same number of follicle stem cells as those with hair. So if researchers could identify the signals that stimulate the stem cells into producing more hair follicle progenitor cells, then it would be possible to generate bigger hair follicles that could grow hair. Such studies have shown that men with male pattern baldness still have stem cells in follicle roots but these stem cells lose the ability to initiate hair regeneration.
University of Toronto scientists have discovered cells in hair follicles that seem to function like dermal stem cells and could have potential uses in many areas of medicine.
Whilst nobody currently offer stem cell therapy for hair loss, this research offers insight into how stem cell therapy can be used for a range of skin conditions, including scarring and skin cancer.
Freda Miller, Ph.D., professor of molecular and medical genetics at the University, reviewed her and her colleagues’ current and prior research at a recent International Society for Stem Cell Research meeting.
The research may someday offer stem cell therapy for hair loss.