For most men, hair loss is a devastating experience that diminishes their confidence and abruptly ends their trips to the local disco where shoulder-length, ruffled manes are the norm. Unfortunately, most of this is purely the result of the media perpetuating a false sense of anxiety in men for the sake of profits. Desperate to recapture their follicular glory, men the world over spend billions of dollars each year on a variety of treatments that are either bunk, or force them to choose between having an erection or regrowing a few sparse patches of hair. Fortunately, scientists from the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute have successfully regrown hair on the foot of a rat (what?) using human stem cells.
Scientists took human stem cells and implanted them in the foot of a rat to grow dermal papilla cells, which are cells that play a major part in the growth and development of hair follicles. In humans, these dermal papilla cells constitute the upper two layers of skin on the scalp. Hair loss is typically the result of these papillae no longer functioning properly.
Although scientists have previously isolated dermal papilla cells and cultured them for propagation, the process of multiplying them reduced their ability to grow follicles even after being transplanted in the human scalp. In contrast, using stem cells to grow papillae has shown no reduction in their ability to produce follicles.
With more than 40 million men and 21 million women suffering from hair loss in the US alone, the results of hair regrowth achieved by Sanford-Burnham researchers are welcome news and will soon begat a world where everyone sports the same shock of voluminous hair.
According to Terskikh, “Our next step is to transplant human dermal papilla cells derived from human pluripotent stem cells back into human subjects. We are currently seeking partnerships to implement this final step.”