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Home > Articles > Baldness Cure? Japanese Study Successfully Grows Hair on Hairless Mice

Baldness Cure? Japanese Study Successfully Grows Hair on Hairless Mice

by Dean Anderson

Could stem cell science reveal the cure to male pattern baldness? A recent study shows promising evidence of just that.

Male pattern baldness, or androgenic alopecia, is a condition that currently affects millions of men in America. It is estimated that by age 35, around 66% of men in American will have some hair loss. At age 50, that percentage jumps to 85%. While factors such as stress can contribute to hair loss, it is believed to be over 95% genetic in nature, leaving most men helpless to the hand nature dealt them. The culprit is a hormone called dihydrotestosterone, linked to testosterone levels in the body, which causes follicles to miniaturize and thus reduce their hair producing life-spans. Comb-overs, wigs, Rogaine, and hair transplant procedures have arisen as solutions to the baldness, but a workable cure has yet to be found. However, the work of Takashi Tsuji from the Tokyo University of Science may change that.

Takashi Tsuji and his team of scientists have published a study in the online journal Nature Communications detailing an experiment where bioengineered hair follicles were cultivated using stem cells. These engineered follicles were taken from the stem cells of normal, hair-growing mice then implanted onto the skin of genetically hairless mice. The procedure was a success, with 74% of implanted hair follicles growing back hair. Not only did it grow, but it functioned like normal follicles, creating hair in cycles and re-growing strands when one fell out.

After this initial success, Tsuji’s team got ambitious. They found that by choosing specific types of hair cells to implants they could control factors like the color and density of the hair that grew. They even tried implanting a human hair follicle. Miraculously, it too grew naturally on mouse skin.

Tsuji’s team stem cell technique was especially exciting because didn’t have to use the embryonic cells typically used in organ re-growth; they were able to utilize adult stem cells. This means that people could potentially use their own cells to produce new hair that matches their natural hair color, thickness, and curl. Even more exciting than that, the study states that their methods “have the potential for not only hair regeneration therapy but also the realization of bioengineered organ replacement using adult somatic stem cells.”.

As exciting as this discovery is, don’t run out to your local hair loss specialist and ask for this treatment next week. Koh-ei Toyoshima, a researcher on Tsuji’s team, stated, "We would like to start clinical research within three to five years, so that an actual treatment to general patients can start within a decade." Further, the team believes that the procedure in its current form could only be used to remedy a small bald patch, perhaps from a burn or injury, rather than a whole, progressively balding scalp.

All is not lost though. There is plenty of room to believe that this treatment can and will be combined with yet-to-be discovered and current hair loss treatments in the future. While skeptical, the team optimistically noted in the study that they believe their research will “enable future regenerative therapy for hair loss caused by injury or by diseases such as alopecia and androgenic alopecia.”

For those of us aren’t willing to wait a decade for a hair loss solution, there are many viable options. If you want to learn about hair loss prevention or restoration treatments, contact us today. We can set you up with a personal and confidential consultation with a hair loss specialist in your area.

--Dean Anderson

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