Scientists grow human hair on mice to treat baldness

Human hair grows on a bald rat. Credit: dNovo.

Despite great scientific and commercial interest, scientists have yet to find an effective way to stop hair loss, let alone reverse it. Of course, there are countless products on the market that claim otherwise, but the majority are snake oils, and a few just delay the inevitable. Despite major setbacks and disappointments, scientists continue to search for new ways to approach this hirsutism problem. The note’s latest development comes from an American startup called dNovo, which has used reprogrammed stem cells to grow human hair on the skin of mice.

Hair growth from stem cells

According to the American Hair Loss Association, two-thirds of men will start to see their hair lose at least some of its shine by age 35. By age 50, about 85% of men will experience significant thinning. And while male pattern baldness is generally thought of as something that affects most men, women are no strangers to this traumatic experience. In fact, an estimated 40% of people affected by hair loss are female.

Hair follicles, the tunnel-shaped structure in the outer layer of skin from which hairs grow, are surprisingly complex, involved in molecular crosstalk between several types of cells. We are all born with a fixed number of hair follicles and once the hair follicle is gone, it is gone.

However, the hair follicles undergo regeneration, natural cycling between growth and rest in a process promoted by hair follicle stem cells. During the growth phase, hair follicle stem cells are activated to regenerate hair follicles and hair shaft, the hair will grow longer every day. During the resting phase, stem cells are dormant and hairs can fall out more easily. Hair loss occurs when hair strands are shed and stem cells remain dead without regenerating new tissue.

The American start-up has created hair follicles by gene reprogramming normal cells, such as blood or fat cells, to become generalized stem cells that can form any type of cell. theoretically any. The researchers then implanted the follicle-forming stem cells into the skin of the rodents as a demonstration, which would go on to grow hairs.

In the future, this type of research could lead to follicular regeneration therapy using stem cells taken from the patient’s own cells. Alternatively, the hairs grown in mice could be implanted into a patient’s scalp, similar to a conventional hair transplant that moves strips of skin from somewhere where a person still has hair to baldness. Since the hair follicles are derived from the patient’s own cells, the risk of rejection is minimal.

Elsewhere, Stemson Therapeutics, a San Diego-based startup, developed a similar therapy clones hair follicles from stem cells and transplants them around a person’s dormant follicles.

For both men and womenhair loss can cause significant emotional damage, including loss of self-esteem and confidence. Before you get too excited, there are some caveats. All stem cell research for hair regeneration is preliminary and there are many challenges to overcome in order to translate promising laboratory results into safe, effective therapies for humans. This can take many years.

MIT Technology Review interview with Geoff Hamilton, CEO of AbbVie, a pharmaceutical company that has invested in its own hair-generating technology from reprogrammed stem cells. Biotech executives emphasize that almost everyone in the industry has a lot of research ahead of them.

“We have seen a lot [people] come and say they have a solution. That happened a lot in the hair, and so I had to deal with that,” he said. “We’re trying to show the world that we’re real scientists, and that’s so risky that I can’t guarantee that it will work.” Scientists grow human hair on mice to treat baldness

James Brien

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