Stem Cells Can Re-Grow Hair
Discovery of Stem Cells in Mouse Hair May Lead to New Hair Loss Treatments
March 15, 2004 -- Hair follicles that are lost may not be gone
For the first time, scientists have identified cells in mice
that are capable of regenerating new hair follicles when transplanted into the
skin. The finding is likely to spur research into new hair loss treatments for
Although researchers have suspected that hair follicles
contained stem cells (which are potent cells that can be coaxed into developing
into multiple types of tissue), their existence had not been conclusively
proven until now.
In the study, researchers used new cell labeling techniques to
isolate the stem cells from hair follicles in mice and then showed that they
developed into mature hair cells capable of producing follicles and hair
"Ultimately, these findings provide potential targets for
the treatment of hair loss and other disorders of the skin and hair," write
research Rebecca J. Morris of Columbia University College of Physicians and
Surgeons, and colleagues.
Discovery Paves the Way for New Hair Loss Treatments
In the study, which appears in the April issue of Nature
Biotechnology, researchers mixed the stem cells of follicles with skin
cells and transplanted the cells into the skin of laboratory mice.
Once transplanted, the stem cells spontaneously grew into hair
follicles that produced hair in the mice.
Researchers say they also identified a set of genes that are
"turned on" by the stem cells, which may provide new targets for
manipulating hair growth.
"Our results provide new avenues for increasing our
understanding of epithelial stem cell biology and hair follicle growth and
disease," conclude the researchers.
Currently, there are only two FDA-approved treatments for hair
loss, Rogaine and Propecia.