Recent results published by a joint team of stem cell researchers from Sweden and Scotland may one day offer hope for those suffering from hair loss. The team, led by Professor Yann Barrandon, head of the stem cell lab at the University of Lausanne, had been searching for a way to help burn victims by growing viable skin when they unexpectedly changed one cell type into a completely different one. In the process, they ended up with skin cells complete with working hair follicles.
While testing how stem cells extracted from the thymus of lab rats would perform if transplanted into growing skin, the team discovered that the cells ceased behaving as they did in the thymus and began performing just like healthy skin cells. “These cells really change track, expressing different genes and becoming more potent,” said Prof. Barrandon. Past attempts to grow skin cells resulted in tissue that lasted only three weeks. The tissue produced in this method has lasted up to one year and includes the precious hair follicles lacking in previous attempts.
It is important to note that these are preliminary results that have only been tested in rats. It is uncertain at this time how this process may work in humans and how it might be implemented in order to restore hair to a balding head. However, it does offer one more avenue of hope to those men and women who have been eagerly awaiting a baldness cure.
Until such time as stem cell therapy becomes a real and viable treatment for hair loss, Propecia (finasteride), Rogaine (minoxidil) and ultra-refined follicular unit hair transplantation remain the most effective methods of restoring hair to the balding scalp.
The findings of the research study referenced in this article were published in the August 19, 2010 issue of the journal, Nature.
David – aka TakingThePlunge
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