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King's College London - Health: More than a medical matter





Clue to baldness found in skin stem cells of mice

05 September 2011

By Kimberley Bryon-Dodd

Appeared in BioNews 624

Fat cells may hold the key to triggering hair growth, US researchers have found. They discovered that a layer of fat cells under the skin of mice sends chemical messages to stem cells, instructing them to grow hair.

Professor Valerie Horsley, a lead author on the paper said: 'If we can get these fat cells in the skin to talk to the dormant stem cells at the base of hair follicles, we might be able to get hair to grow again'.

Research showed that when hairs die, the layer of fat underneath them shrinks. When new hair grows, the layer of fat grows back. By using mice that were unable to produce these fat cells (and so having stunted hair growth) the scientists from Yale University, USAwere able to study the effect of the fat cells on the mice's ability to grow fur.

They injected these mice with fat cells derived from healthy mice, and discovered they could kick-start fur growth. Two weeks after the injection they could see hair follicles being reactivated, and the start of new hair growth.

They then isolated the chemical signal that they believe is responsible for stimulating hair growth – platelet derived growth factor (PDGF). The fat cells secrete PDGF at a level roughly 100 times higher than neighbouring cells do, and when the team injected PDGF directly into bald mice it was able to stimulate hair growth in 86 percent of follicles.

It has previously been shown that men suffering from male-pattern baldness still have the normal amount of stem cells required for hair growth but that these cells are dormant.

The researchers hope they may be able to use a similar signal to awaken the dormant stem cells in balding men, and encourage hair growth. However, further research is needed to determine if the signals involved in human hair growth are the same as in mice.

This research was published in Cell.

 

 

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

23 April 2012 - by Greg Ball 
Functioning hair follicles have been grown in hairless mice by researchers in Japan, offering hope of a future treatment for baldness and alopecia in humans. The study is the first to report creating viable hair follicles using human cells, according to Nature News.... [Read More]
26 March 2012 - by Dr Zara Mahmoud 
New treatments for male pattern baldness could be on the way, as scientists identify a protein they believe inhibits growth of hair follicles... [Read More]

10 January 2011 - by Dr Rachael Panizzo 
Faulty stem cells may cause the onset of male pattern baldness, scientists have found. Professor George Cotsarelis and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia discovered that stem cells are present in the hair follicles of both bald and hairy scalp regions in men with male pattern baldness... [Read More]
22 November 2009 - by Dr Rebecca Robey 
Human skin suitable for transplants has been grown from embryonic stem (ES) cells for the first time. The new technique, pioneered by researchers at the Institute for Stem Cell Therapy and Exploration of Monogenic Diseases, Evry, France, may one day provide a source for life-saving skin replacements for people suffering from severe burns.... [Read More]
30 September 2005 - by BioNews 
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26 May 2005 - by BioNews 
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06 September 2004 - by BioNews 
Adult mouse skin contains stem cells that can grow into both skin and hair, a new US study confirms. The findings could lead to new treatments for burns and baldness say the researchers, who published their findings in the journal Cell. The scientists, based at the Rockefeller University in New... [Read More]

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