Cure for baldness in sight as scientists make "critical breakthrough"
A cure for baldness could be within sight after scientists created hair that grows through the skin using human stem cells.
Researchers in the United States said they had refined a method which allowed them to grow hair through the skin of mice using dermal papilla cells derived from human pluripotent stem cells.
The study involved the human stem cells being combined with mice cells and attached to a 3D biodegradable scaffold, made from similar materials to dissolvable stitches.
Dermal papilla cells cannot usually be obtained in large enough amounts to be useful in restoring hair growth. But growing them from stem cells means scientists can create an unlimited supply for transplantation.
The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) and received a Merit Award.
"Our new protocol described today overcomes key technological challenges that kept our discovery from real-world use," said Alexey Terskikh, Ph.D., an associate professor in Sanford Burnham Prebys' Development, Aging and Regeneration Programme and the co-founder and chief scientific officer of Stemson Therapeutics.
"Now we have a robust, highly controlled method for generating natural-looking hair that grows through the skin using an unlimited source of human iPSC-derived dermal papilla cells. This is a critical breakthrough in the development of cell-based hair-loss therapies and the regenerative medicine field."
The scientists are now looking at applying the same process in humans, and say there is an “unlimited” supply of stem cells which can be taken from a simple blood draw.
"It could improve the lives of millions," Dr Richard Chaffoo, a medical adviser to Stemson Therapeutics, said.
"Hair loss profoundly affects many people's lives. A significant part of my practice involves both men and women who are seeking solutions to their hair loss."