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

Hair hopes raised for bald men in mouse study

23 April 2012

By Greg Ball

Appeared in BioNews 653

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.

The hair follicles were created using stem cells taken from mice and balding men, and were grown in the laboratory. The follicles were then injected under the skin of hairless mice and within five weeks new hair growth was seen. Hair follicles bioengineered using adult human stem cells taken from the scalp of a balding man also successfully grew hair, indicating that this technique has potential for application in humans, according to the researchers involved.

Professor Takashi Tsuji, who led the research at the Tokyo University of Science pointed out the potential of the research in future treatment of baldness. He told Reuters: 'We take a small amount of hair [from the patient's scalp] and through bioengineering, multiply or increase the hair follicles. Once we've created enough we will be able to surgically transplant the regenerated hairs'.

The research, published in Nature Communications, reported that the implanted hairs connected well with the surrounding muscles and nerves, and responded normally to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, known to make hair stand up. The hair follicles also displayed normal growth cycles, regenerating new growth after old hairs had fallen out.

By altering the types of cells used to bioengineer the hair follicles, the researchers were able to alter the properties of the hairs, such as pigmentation, suggesting that the technique may also have potential in restoring natural hair colour.

However, any future treatment would need to go through clinical trials and it is likely to be several years before it may become available. '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', another of the researchers, Dr Koh-ei Toyoshima, a project researcher at the Research Institute for Science and Technology, was quoted by IOL SciTech as saying.

The Daily Mail also pointed out that the treatment would not be cheap, with stem cell treatments likely to cost thousands of pounds.



04 February 2013 - by Michelle Downes 
A DNA test has been developed to see if couples carry the 'ginger gene'... [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]
05 September 2011 - by Kimberley Bryon-Dodd 
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... [Read More]
13 June 2011 - by Mehmet Fidanboylu 
Scientists from China and the USA have identified a genetic region linked to 'werewolf syndrome', a condition that causes excessive hair growth. The condition also known as hyper-trichosis is very rare - fewer than 100 cases have ever been recorded worldwide... [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]

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