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Hair regeneration using stem cells to treat baldness

26 May 2020
Appeared in BioNews 1048

 Stem cells derived from fat can lead to hair regrowth for people with a common type of baldness, according to a new study. 

The South Korean researchers conducted a clinical trial into androgenetic alopecia (AGA), the most common cause of hair loss. The trial showed that the use of extracts of fat tissue – termed adipose-derived stem cell constituent extract (ADSC-CE) – increased both hair thickness and density in patients.

'Recent studies have shown that ADSCs promote hair growth in both men and women with alopecia. However, no randomised, placebo-controlled trial in humans has explored the effects and safety of ADSC-CE in AGA. We aimed to assess the efficacy and tolerability of ADSC-CE in middle-aged patients with AGA in our study, hypothesising that it is an effective and safe treatment agent,' said corresponding author Dr Sang Lee from Pusan National University Yangsan Hospital.

To make their solution, the team disrupted the membrane of stem cells found in fat tissues using a low-frequency ultrasound wave and enriched the secreted stem cell with protein. They recruited 38 patients – 29 men and nine women – with AGA for the clinical trial. One half applied the ADSC-CE lotion to their scalp with their fingers, and the other applied a placebo solution.

A dot was tattooed on the participants' scalps in order to compare the same spot over time. After 16 weeks, the group that used the ADSC-CE lotion presented a significant increase in hair density with 28.1 percent in comparison to 7.1 percent in the control group, and also hair thickness with 14.2 percent in comparison to 6.3 percent in the control group.

The results from this clinical trial, published in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine, presented no side-effects, and provide an alternative to current hair therapeutic strategies that have been associated with loss of libido and erectile disfunction.

Further research is required to understand the molecular mechanisms by which ADSC-CE can affect hair growth in humans. 'The next step should be to conduct similar studies with large and diverse populations in order to confirm the beneficial effects of ADSC-CE on hair growth and elucidate the mechanisms responsible for the action of ADSC-CE in humans,' said Dr Lee.

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