In a new study, Japanese scientists have developed an efficient method of successfully generating hair growth.
They have tested the method on mice, and the finding paves way for new treatment of hair loss in humans.
The research was conducted by a team from Yokohama National University.
Previous research has shown that several factors contribute to human hair loss: It can be hereditary, or it can occur as a result of aging, hormonal imbalances or treatment with cancer-fighting medications.
All of the factors can lead to the loss of stem cells responsible for hair formation during development and the replacement of hairs that are shed during normal hair cycling.
Currently, hair loss is treated with drugs and hair transplantation—where hair follicles are removed from one part of the body (ex. the back of the head) to the site of hair loss.
However, these treatment methods have their limitations: drugs are inefficient at stimulating hair regrowth to the extent necessary to counteract hair loss, and hair transplantation doesn’t increase hair numbers in the scalp.
In the new study, the team found a new approach to regenerate hair using mouse and human hair follicle stem cells.
The team fabricated hair beads (HBs) in a plate array using hair follicle stem cells encapsulated in collagen.
Collagen is a protein in skin and it plays an important role in hair follicle generation and hair regrowth throughout life.
A suspension of mouse epithelial cells (outer layer of the skin cells) was then added into the wells containing the gel encapsulated hair beads.
After 24 hours, the cells clumped together in a ball and adhered to the collagen gel. The collagen gel then contracted to form a “bead-based hair follicle germ” (bbHFG).
The team transplanted HBs and bbHFGs onto the backs of mice and found the collagen-enriched hair bead (bbHFG) approach produced a high rate of hair generation after four weeks.
The researchers also investigated whether this method could be automated for hair regenerative treatment of patients suffering hair loss.
They found the approach was scalable to prepare a large number of hair follicle germs, which is important for human treatment.
The team says the new method can be scaled up and therefore has great potential for clinical treatment in human hair loss therapy.
Future work needs to test the method using hair follicle stem cells derived from patients suffering from hair loss.
The leaders of the study are Dr. Tatsuto Kageyama and Prof. Junji Fukuda.
The study is published in Biomaterials.
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