In an exciting turn of events, scientists from the Research Institute for Science and Technology at Tokyo University successfully grew hair from human stem cells implanted in mice. While similar projects have been attempted before, what makes the Tokyo University study unique is the manner in which the human stem cells were created and the properties the cells exhibited in the mouse model.
According to research leader Dr. Takashi Tsuji, the Tokyo University team began the process by isolating two separate types of human cells: epithelial (outer skin) stem cells and dermal papilla cells (cells both found in the base of the hair follicle and frequently associated with the regenerative properties of hair). Next, the researchers combined these cells and created, what they termed, a “seed follicle.” Finally, the seed follicles were implanted (individually) into the mouse model, where they acted as normal human hair follicles and produced hair.
After the implantation, the mouse showed both new hair growth and the ability to regrow hair that was plucked or removed from the model. The ability to regrow the plucked hair suggests the “seed” follicles successfully transitioned into functional human hair follicles.
While this news is extremely exciting, a few lingering questions and potential complications remain. First, according to several hair loss experts, it is still uncertain whether these “seed” follicles can be amplified and implanted in significant numbers. In the mouse model, the engineered hair follicles were implanted individually, and the need to both grow and implant the grafts “one at a time” could be unrealistic in human hair restoration. Furthermore, it is uncertain how long the seed follicles can survive outside of the human body, which, again, could be a problem during a hypothetical hair transplant procedure.
Because of this, we recommend remaining “cautiously optimistic” toward the new findings and still highly suggest proven, preventive hair loss therapies like Rogaine/minoxidil and Propecia/finasteride.
Altogether, the news is very exciting and we will update as new details unfold!
Blake Bloxham – formerly “Future_HT_Doc”
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Technorati Tags: Tokyo University, human stem cells, Dr. Takashi Tsuji, dermal papilla cells, hair follicle, seed follicle, human hair follicles, hair loss, engineered hair follicles, hair restoration, hair transplant, hair loss, Rogaine, minoxidil, Propecia, finasteride