Throw away those tonics! Bin those balms! Hide those hairpieces! We bring great news for those who are losing more than the average of 100 hairs per day. In a set of hair-raising experiments researchers from the laboratory of Alexey V. Terskikh (Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, USA) have developed a novel strategy for the production of hair-growth promoting cells from human pluripotent stem cells.
Current methods to promote hair growth rely on the transplantation of a limited supply of existing adult dermal papillae cells (DPs). While this strategy does work in principle, DPs do not propagate well in in vitro culture, and so this new strategy could provide a limitless supply of these hair-growth promoting cells.
Let’s “highlight” some of the results:
- The group differentiated human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) through a neural crest (NC) intermediate before incubation with a specific DP growth medium and selection for mesenchymal like-cells allowed hESC-DPs derivation.
- hESC-DPs were morphologically and transcriptionally similar to human adult DPs.
- Co-transplanting hESC-DPs with keratinocytes under the skin of immunodeficient mice stimulated high levels of hair growth, to a level similar to that observed with mouse DPs.
- The researchers also demonstrated the essential nature of BMP growth factor signaling in the NC intermediate for hESC-DP formation.
While this is a great advance for the field, the researchers still note the presence of a few “grey hairs”. Similar experiments with human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) did not give as encouraging results, perhaps due to inherent variation within hiPSC lines and each lines specific somatic origin which can influence differentiation. Additionally, further work is also required to assess different cell subpopulations within the heterogeneous culture, and to answer whether these cells can mediate hair re-growth in human patients.
However, we are sure the follicly challenged out there are glad that this paper made the “cut”. Read the finer details over at PLOS One, January 2015.