A pioneering new stem cell technique for combating hair loss has been discovered in America as researchers manage to grow human hair in mice during trials.
Scientists at California’s Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute developed the ground-breaking new technique which involves developing human stem cells into the dermal papilla cells, which are responsible for the formation of hair follicles and the hair growth cycle.
During their trials, associate professor in the Development, Aging and Regeneration Program at Sanford-Burnham, Alexey Terskikh, PhD, and his team managed to grow new hair in mice using human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs). These cells are derived from human embryos or foetal tissue which can transform into any other cell type in the body.
Researchers successfully transplanted dermal papilla cells derived from hPSCs into test mice, who then started to grow human hair. Pictured above, you can see one instance of the human hair growth achieved during this study on the leg of one of these mice.
More effective than hair transplants?
It is believed that, should this technique of inducing hair growth be as successful during human trials, it will have the potential to be more effective than current hair transplant methods. Although, whilst its potential for hair regrowth is clear, this method could not currently be used in a hair transplant-type procedure for a number of reasons.
Firstly, the adult dermal papilla cells can only be gathered in small quantities making them unsuitable for hair transplants. Secondly, there is currently too limited a time-frame during which the cells can spark hair follicle formation in culture, for them to be used in restoration surgery.
However, as Dr. Terskikh notes, the findings do suggest a technique that may get round these obstacles:
“We have developed a method using human pluripotent stem cells to create new cells capable of initiating human hair growth. The method is a marked improvement over current methods that rely on transplanting existing hair follicles from one part of the head to another.
Our stem cell method provides an unlimited source of cells from the patient for transplantation and isn’t limited by the availability of existing hair follicles.”
Conducting human trials, where the human pluripotent stem cell-derived dermal papilla cells are transplanted back into people, rather than mice, is the next stage of the research programme, Terskikh advises, “We are currently seeking partnerships to implement this final step”.
Stem cell treatment for hair loss
There have been a number of studies recently investigating how stem cells can be used to treat hair loss conditions, although it is likely to be a while yet before this next wave of hair loss treatments become readily available.
We recently reported on the Canadian research by veterinarian scientists who also discovered a way to regrow hair lost to the likes of male pattern hair loss by using stem cells. Although their findings were based on methods that were tested on mice, the team believes its findings may be applicable to humans too, although rigorous clinical trials are still necessary.
Another study, this time in Spain, reported the discovery of a link between the immune system and stem cells which could lead to new advances in treatment for alopecia areata.
We will keep you up to date with all the latest discoveries regarding potential treatments, here on the Belgravia hair loss blog but, if you have concerns now, it is always best to seek help as soon as you notice the first signs of hair loss. Contact one of our Central London clinics by calling 020 7730 6666 or dropping us a message to book your free hair loss consultation, or if you are based outside of London, please use our Online Consultation form for our home-use service.
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The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.