Bioengineering raises hope for baldness cure
Follicles show normal hair cycles in bald mice
Hair follicles derived from adult stem cells have shown interaction with surrounding tissue and normal hair cycles in the skin of bald mice, in a study published in Nature Communications.
The Japanese study is particularly notable because adult, rather than embryonic, stem cells were used and the bioengineered follicles were fully functional and integrated into surrounding tissue, which has not been managed before.
Hair follicle germ cells were bioengineered from adult epithelial and dermal papilla cells. When implanted into the skin of hairless mice, the follicles showed normal hair cycles and, after dead hairs fell out, new hairs took their place.
The cells showed signs of piloerection, where the hair stands on end when the surrounding muscles contract, and made connections with the epidermis, arrector pili muscles and nerve fibres.
The researchers say the study raises hopes for a baldness cure and represents a “significant advance towards the next generation of organ replacement regenerative therapies”.