Vol. 22 – Hair Cloning Breakthrough: ‘Mass Production’ of Epithelial Stem Cells
February 13, 2014
Hair Cloning Breakthrough: ‘Mass Production’ of Epithelial Stem Cells
Hair shafts (arrowheads) formed by induced pluripotent stem cell-derived epithelial stem cells compared to mouse hair (arrows) — Credit: Ruifeng Yang, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
Progress towards hair cloning may have just have shifted up another gear thanks to scientists at the University of Pennsylvania and the New Jersey Institute of Technology. The breakthrough study published January 28th, 2014 is the first to show the successful transformation of adult human skin cells into quantities of epithelial stem cells necessary for hair regeneration.
The researchers, led by Dr. Xiaowei “George” Xu, started with human skin cells called dermal fibroblasts, then transformed those into a type of stem cell called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). These were then transformed into epithelial stem cells (EpSCs). This important step had never been achieved before in either humans or mice. The epithelial stem cells were combined with mouse dermal cells, that can be induced to form hair follicles, and then grafted on a mouse host. The epithelial cells and dermal cells then grew to form a functional human epidermis and follicles structurally similar to human hair follicles. The exhibits that accompany the study include photographic evidence of human hairs.