A cure for baldness may be on the horizon after scientists worked out how to grow ‘unlimited’ amount of natural-looking hair from stem cells.In a study on mice, human stem cells were grafted onto a tiny ‘scaffold’, which was then implanted under the skin and led to hair growing normally.
The work has been described as a ‘critical breakthrough’, which could help millions of people who suffer from baldness for reasons such as age, genes or illness. Past tests had trialled a similar method but not been able to control the hair growth, which researchers this time managed to achieve.
A company in the United States (U.S.), Stemson Therapeutics, has already committed to developing the technology, which experts hope to move onto testing on people.
Scientists from Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute revealed their findings at the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) conference in Los Angeles, US, last Thursday. In trials scientists grafted human stem cells on mice cells and attached them to tiny scaffolds to control the direct of hair growth and help them integrate into the skin.
Those scaffolds were then placed under the skin of mice and hair emerged through it.The technique works by using cells called dermal papillae, which resides in the hair follicle and controls hair growth, thickness and length. The dermal papilla cells are derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) which ‘act like embryonic stem cells from normal adult cells’, according to the Morning Call.
In 2015, Terskikh successfully grew hair underneath mouse skin using those stem cells but without any control of the growth. Now the refined protocol controls how much hair is grown and in what direction.The more advanced process involves creating 3D biodegradable scaffolds – made from the same material as dissolvable stitches – with mouse skin cells combined with human dermal papilla cells and placing them under the skin of mice without body hair.