Blog readers keep giving me breaking news faster than Google Alerts, and I am appreciative. This time, thanks to “Del”, even if his input has forced me to write two posts in one day.
Pluripotent Stem Cells and Hair Growth
Yesterday a very important study was published in Nature Magazine. It is titled “Hair-bearing human skin generated entirely from pluripotent stem cells”.
The study has numerous co-authors from a few medical centers and universities based in the US. The lead author is Dr. Jiyoon Lee, while the correspondence author is Dr. Karl Koehler. The latter works at Boston Children’s Hospital as well as Harvard Medical School. Moreover, Dr. Koehler’s lab has its own site, on which he published a post about these findings.
In this latest research, undifferentiated human stem cells were successfully coaxed into developing skin-like organoids in vitro. When these human-derived structures were grafted onto immuno-compromised bald mice, the rodents produced robust (albeit shorter length) hair.
The scientists generated near-complete skin organoids that ultimately resulted in pigmented hair. The skin cells grew in a sphere and were “fed” with various chemicals and growth factors (such as BMP4 and FGF2) for 4-5 months. Both the dermis and epidermis skin layers were successfully grown.
If this work goes through successful clinical trials, it will essentially mean a cure for hair loss. The global media has largely ignored this research, although the UK’s Mirror was a notable exception.
Cotsarelis Rises Again
Prolific blog commentator MJones’ favorite hair loss researcher and fellow Alexander the Great progeny Dr. George Cotsarelis has been missing in action recently. However, this new research is so significant, that Dr. Cotsarelis and Dr. Leo Wang wrote a detailed article summarizing it in Nature Magazine.
Per Dr. Cotsarelis and Dr. Wang, this study represents a major step towards a cure for baldness in humans. They are confident that this research will eventually see its promise realized. Moreover, individuals who have major wounds, scars and genetic skin diseases will all benefit from revolutionary new treatments based on this research.
In these times of pandemics and protests and riots, it is great to see Dr. Cotsarelis’ optimism remain unimpeded. Ironically, for MJones, the glass has always been half empty.
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