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Hair Restoration Research

JAK Inhibitors Prove Effective in Trials on Alopecia Areata

Two new studies researching a class of drugs called JAK inhibitors have shown that oral treatment results in significant hair regrowth in patients with alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition that causes non-scarring patches of localized hair loss. Currently there is no cure for alopecia areata, so the possibility of a safe, effective medication is welcome news for thousands of affected patients. The two studies were published in September 2016 in the journal JCI Insight, a peer-reviewed journal dedicated to biomedical research.

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Hair Restoration Research

Dr. Christiano Discovers JAK Inhibitors as Potential New Topical Treatment for Hair Loss

Dr. Angela Christiano and her team of researchers at Columbia University studying the autoimmune disease Alopecia areata, have shed new light on how to move hair follicles from their resting (telogen) stage into the anagen phase where they can produce normal hairs. Their study, published in the October issue of Science Advances, introduces the possibility of a new topical medication for hair growth. The finding has implications in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia (common hair loss) as well as Alopecia areata, which causes a non-scarring form of localized hair loss.

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Hair Restoration Research

Hair Cloning Breakthrough with “Mass Production” of Epithelial Stem Cells

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.

Yang R, et al. 2014

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Hair Restoration Answers

When will Dr. Christiano’s Research on Follicular Neogenesis (Hair Cloning) be Available?

Q: I read, with considerable interest, your excellent article on the latest in Dr. Angela Christiano’s work on follicular neogenesis. It seems to me that the next questions we should be asking are: when will testing begin on human subjects and when might her research develop into a hair cloning treatment that is available to the general public?

A: It is very difficult to determine when this phase of the research might begin and it is even harder to predict when treatment might become available. First, the technology is not quite there. Dr. Christiano showed in her recent paper that changing the environment of skin (fibroblast) cells so that they could form into 3-D cultures enabled them to induce human hair-follicle growth. Although this was a major step towards cloning hair, additional work needs to be done before we will be able to mass produce fully-functioning human hair follicles to the extent needed for hair transplantation.

In addition, research on human subjects requires that experiments meet rigorous federal regulatory standards and these take time to be approved and carried out. Supposing that further study of follicle neogenesis results in a breakthrough treatment for hair loss, this treatment would still require meeting substantial efficacy and safety requirements of the FDA before it would be made available to the public. We will be communicating important developments as they occur through our Hair Cloning Research section and through periodic updates in the Bernstein Medical Newsletter.

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Hair Restoration Research

Columbia University Study on 3-D Cultures is ‘Substantial Step Forward’ Towards Cloning Human Hair

For four decades, scientists have known about the possibility of using cells derived from the base of hair follicles (dermal papilla cells) to stimulate the growth of new hair. More recently, researchers have been able to harvest dermal papillae, multiply them, and induce the creation of new hair follicles – but only in rats. Now, for the first time, scientists at Columbia University have shown that they can induce new human hair growth from cloned human papillae. This procedure, called “hair follicle neogenesis,” has the potential to solve one of the primary limitations in today’s surgical hair restoration techniques; namely, the patient’s finite donor hair supply that is available for transplantation.

A significant number of hair loss patients do not have enough donor hair to be candidates for a hair transplant procedure with the percentage of women lacking stable donor hair greater than in men. This technique would enable both men and women with limited donor reserves to benefit from hair transplant procedures and enable current candidates to achieve even better results.

According to co-study leader Angela M. Christiano, Ph.D., of Columbia University in New York, the ground-breaking publication is a “substantial step forward” in hair follicle neogenesis. While the technology still needs further development to be clinically useful, the implications of successfully inducing new hair follicles to grow from cloned hair cells could be a game-changer in the arena of hair restoration. Instead of moving hair follicles from the donor area to the recipient area, as in a hair transplant, follicular neogenesis involves the creation of new follicles, literally adding more follicles to the scalp rather than merely transplanting them from one part of the scalp to another.

Higgins C, et al. 2013

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Hair Restoration Research

Columbia University Scientist Induces Hair Follicle Growth from Dermal Papilla Implants

We have previously discussed Dr. Angela Christiano’s work on hair loss genetics with her team at Columbia University in New York. A review of the 16th annual meeting of the European Hair Research Society brings to our attention new research being conducted by a scientist who works at Dr. Christiano’s laboratory, Dr. Claire Higgins.

Dr. Higgins is studying the inductive properties of the dermal papilla (DP), which is a group of cells that form the structure directly below each hair follicle.

Higgins C, et al. 2012

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Hair Restoration Answers

Is Genetic Hair Loss Linked to Other Diseases?

Q: There was a retrospective study by Lotufo et al. linking male pattern baldness to heart disease. Do you think there are other links like this for androgenetic alopecia?

A: Family studies revealed both the androgen receptor locus on the X chromosome, as well as a new locus on chromosome 3q26. Association studies performed in two independent groups revealed a locus on chromosome 20 (not near any known genes) as well as the androgen receptor on the X chromosome. Read on for the rest of the answer.

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Hair Restoration Research

Dr. Christiano Interviewed on Alopecia, Hair Loss Genetics by New York Times

Dr. Angela Christiano, a colleague of Dr. Bernstein’s at Columbia University, has been studying the causes of alopecia areata and genetic hair loss for many years. She, in fact, suffers from the disease as well.

The New York Times has published a question and answer interview with Dr. Christiano which covers her own struggle with alopecia, her research into the causes of genetic hair loss, and where she sees the field going in the future.

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Hair Restoration Research

Dr. Christiano at Columbia University Identifies APCDD1, A Newly Discovered Gene Associated With Hair Loss

Dr. Angela Christiano of Columbia University in New York and a team of scientific researchers, have identified a new gene involved in hair growth. Their discovery may affect the direction of future research for hair loss and the diagnosis and ultimate prevention of male pattern baldness.

The condition, which leads to thinning hair, is called hereditary hypotrichosis simplex. Through the study of families in Pakistan and Italy who suffer from this condition, the team was able to identify a mutation of the APCDD1 gene located in chromosome 18. This chromosome has been linked to other causes of hair loss.

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