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Is This Future Stem Cell Hair Regrowth Treatment for You?
by April Maguire
More than 60 million Americans, both men and women, suffer from hair loss. Around the globe, that number swells to 1.5 billion. That’s more than 20 percent of the worldwide population.
Given those numbers, it’s easy to see why finding a cure for baldness has become a scientific holy grail. And now, a team of researchers in Orlando believes it’s on track to developing a natural treatment for hair loss using human stem cells.
Understanding the Research
It’s important to understand how hair grows on our bodies. The uppermost layer of our skin has features called “dermal papillae.” Blood vessels in these papillae give nourishment to the surrounding hair follicles and allow hair to grow. Hair loss occurs when the dermal papillae stop functioning properly.
Previous research efforts have attempted to collect healthy dermal papillae, place them into a culture, allow them to multiply, and then reintroduce the new papillae into the skin. Unfortunately, this approach fails because, after dermal papillae have been multiplied, they lose their ability to induce hair growth.
The Orlando team’s new stem cell approach circumvents this problem. According to Dr. Alexey Terskikh, associate professor at Orlando’s Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute and one of the members of the research team, this stem cell method offers an unlimited source of the patient’s own cells for transplantation because it’s not limited by existing hair follicles. Dr. Terskikh and the Sanford-Burnham team started with pluripotent embryonic stem cells, which are capable of developing into any other type of cell within the human body. The team then coaxed these stem cells into becoming neural crest cells and eventually pushed them to become dermal papillae cells, the very cells necessary for hair growth.
Once transplanted into the subject’s body, these dermal papillae cells should flourish, reenergizing hair follicles and causing new hair to grow.
The Future of Stem Cell Research
Dr. Terskikh and the Orlando team have already had some success with this new stem cell method. Recently, they were able to introduce dermal papillae cells into the body of a hairless mouse and promote the growth of new hair.
According to Dr. Terskikh the next step is to transplant human dermal papilla cells back into human subjects. If this method proves successful in humans, the team hopes they will have found the cure for the baldness plaguing so many people around the world.
If you or someone you know wants more information about hair loss and how to treat it, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!