Japanese researchers have demonstrated that scientists can bioengineer viable, hair-producing follicles from epithelial stem cells and dermal papilla cells. Using these components, the team produced follicles that exhibit both the normal hair cycle and piloerection (the reflex contraction of a tiny muscle in the hair follicles which creates what is commonly referred to as “goose bumps”). The bioengineered follicles also developed the normal structures found within follicles and formed natural connections with skin tissues, muscle cells, and nerve cells.
The scientists used a breakthrough type of hair multiplication to achieve a functional bioengineered hair follicle. In hair multiplication, germinative cells are harvested non-surgically and then multiplied outside the body in a laboratory. These cells are then injected into the skin where they, ideally, grow into hair follicles. The Japanese research team takes this concept one step further by first combining the stem cells and dermal papillae in the laboratory to create a germ of the hair follicle. This germ is then implanted into the scalp where it grows into a viable hair follicle.
The study opens the door to treat common baldness (androgenetic alopecia) and a host of other medical conditions that can cause hair loss.
Koh-ei Toyoshima, Kyosuke Asakawa, Naoko Ishibashi, Hiroshi Toki, Miho Ogawa, Tomoko Hasegawa, Tarou Irié, Tetsuhiko Tachikawa, Akio Sato, Akira Takeda, Takashi Tsuji. Fully functional hair follicle regeneration through the rearrangement of stem cells and their niches. Nature Communications, 2012; 3: 784 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1784Posted by