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University of Pennsylvania Researchers Offer New Baldness Cure
University of Pennsylvania researchers recently released a study using stem cells in mice to grow large numbers of active hair follicles, offering a potential cure for male pattern baldness.
The researchers claim that while many consider using stem cells to regenerate missing or dying hair follicles as a possible cure for hair loss, they haven’t been able to create enough hair follicle-generating stem cells in the epithelium tissues until now.
“This is the first time anyone has made scalable amounts of epithelial stem cells that are capable of generating the epithelial component of hair follicles,” Dr. Xiaowei Xu, an associate professor of dermatology at University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, commented in a university news release, according to Web MD.
Xu claimed that epithelial stem cells are useful in multiple areas, including wound healing, cosmetics and hair regeneration.
During the study, Xu’s research team converted induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), which are reprogrammed adult stem cells similar to embryonic stem cells, into epithelial stem cells. The researchers commented that this conversion is the first attempt in mice or people.
The researchers mixed the epithelial stem cells with other cells and implanted them into the mice, producing the most external layers of skin cells and follicles, similar to human hair follicles, according to the study, published in late January in the journal Nature Communications. The study’s results suggest that these stem cells could potentially help reverse hair loss in humans, according to the researchers.
Xu also commented that the study’s success with using iPSC-derived epithelial stem cells to regenerate hair follicles does not necessarily mean that a human baldness cure is just around the corner. Hair follicles include both epithelial cells and another type of adult stem cell called dermal papillae.
“When a person loses hair, they lose both types of cells,” Xu said in the news release. “We have solved one major problem, the epithelial component of the hair follicle. We need to figure out a way to also make new dermal papillae cells and no one has figured that part out yet.”
Experts tend to point out that studies on animals usually fail when implemented in humans.
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