Researchers read new hair growing on bald skin
Not only men, but also many women develop light hair into baldness in the course of their lives. Sufferers often suffer from a significantly reduced self-esteem and corresponding psychological problems. Scientists at the Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) have now developed a hair transplant procedure that enables new hair growth on previously bald skin. "The approach could significantly expand the use of hair transplantation in women with hair loss who have inadequate donor hair and in people in the early stages of balding," reports the CUMC in a recent press release. The results of the study were published in the online edition of the journal "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences" (PNAS).
"Over 90 percent of women with hair loss are not candidates for conventional hair transplantation because of inadequate donor hair," explained the co-study leader Dr. Angela Christiano. However, the newly developed process could possibly help them in the future. "This method offers the possibility of inducing a large number of hair follicles or rejuvenating existing hair follicles, starting with cells that have grown from just a few hundred donor hair," emphasized the researcher. The novel hair transplant could be used "to help people with a limited number of follicles, including those with female hair loss and hair loss due to burns," Angela Christiano said. Since, according to the researcher, these patients "do not benefit from existing medications that slow the rate of hair loss but do not usually stimulate robust new hair growth," the new procedure would be a special breakthrough for them.
New hair growth possible on bald skin? Scientists have long worked on initiating new hair growth on bald skin. In various experiments, the so-called "dermal papilla cells" (hair-forming cells) were used for this, but as soon as the cells "are brought into conventional two-dimensional cell culture, they develop back into skin cells and lose their ability to produce hair follicles," explained the study author Colin Jahoda, professor of stem cell science at Durham University in England. In their current study, the researchers therefore addressed the question of how a sufficiently large number of cells can be grown for the regeneration of hair and at the same time how their inductive properties can be maintained.
Transplanted cells form hair follicles and let hair grow The researchers removed the dermal papilla cells from the hair follicles of seven men, but instead of multiplying them in conventional cultures, they created a special three-dimensional microenvironment that more closely matched the natural conditions of cell growth. The cells were then transplanted into bald human skin, which in turn had previously been transplanted onto the back of mice. The result: In five out of seven trials, hair follicles were found within a few weeks, which allowed hair to grow on bald skin. The gene expression was 22 percent identical to that in normal donor hair follicles. "This is less than we expected, but it was sufficient to induce the growth of new hair follicles," said Dr. Christiano.
Clinical studies required for the new hair transplant procedure Before the procedure can be tested on humans, however, according to the researchers, a few tests still need to be carried out. For example, it should be examined how the critical intrinsic properties of the newly induced hair (hair growth cycle, color, angle, positioning, etc.) can be influenced, explained Prof. Jahoda. Overall, however, the team is optimistic that clinical trials can begin in the near future. The current investigation is also an important step on the way to creating a replacement skin that contains hair follicles and can be used, for example, in patients with burns, emphasized Dr. Jahoda. (fp)
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