Hair Follicles Grown in a Lab – Research Secrets Revealed
The loss of hair on the scalp is actually a regular part of daily life for the public. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it is estimated that a common amount of hair loss per day is between fifty and one hundred hairs per day. While this is a daily occurrence for many people, the idea of hair loss and balding can actually be quite traumatic for people of all ages. Depending on the amount of hair loss, a hair transplant might be the ideal choice to address the issue of balding and thinning hair.
Or is it?
Recent research out of Japan has shed a light on some potential hair growth methods that could have an impact on the treatment of hair loss in the future.
Hair Follicles Grown in a Lab – Info Here
New research about the generating of new hair follicles, in vitro in a lab, was published in the journal, Science Advances, and the information came from a team of researchers from Yokohama National University in Japan who studied the generation of hair follicles in cultures.
The team of researchers explained that their work was centered on the practice of performing “organoid” cultures AKA smaller and simpler “versions of an organ” that have received greater attention in research that is performed to provide a better understanding of organ and tissue development.
The researchers also explained that, when an embryo forms, a series of messages will shoot back and forth between the connective tissue of the skin and the epidermal layer of the skin. In turn, these signals will stimulate hair follicle creation in a process known as morphogenesis. In the past, it was quite difficult for researchers to fully understand the process behind the development of hair follicles. Plus, hair follicles have also not been reproduced in a culture dish (until now).
Hair Follicles Grown in a Lab – Research Team Speaks Out
In order to conduct the study, the research team used rodent embryonic cells because of “their shorter period of hair generation, higher hair-inducing activity, and availability compared to cells of human origin.” According to the author of the study, Junji Fukuda, PhD, who is a professor in the faculty of engineering at Yokohama University, “We were surprised that hair follicle tissues capable of producing hairs could be obtained by culture. It was even more surprising that we were able to increase the probability of hair formation from less than 1% – one out of 300 cell aggregates – at the beginning of the research to almost 100% – or 300 out of 300 cell aggregates – in this study.”
The hair follicles were created by controlling the structure of the series of messages between the connective skin tissue and the epidermal layer of the skin through a “low concentration of extracellular matrices” which is a network in the human body that offers a structure for the cells and tissues. The research team reported that they were able to grow hair follicles and hair shafts “with almost 100% efficiency” which means they were able to produce “fully mature hair follicles with long hair shafts” that measured about 3-mm in length in a period of twenty-three days in the culture.
Due to the generation of hair follicles, the research team was able to examine the morphogenesis process along with hair pigmentation in vitro. This examination process gave them a more in-depth understanding of the “signal process” that stimulated the growth of the follicles.
Fukuda said, “Our system provides a continuous in vitro observation of the process of new hair follicle formation. Thus, it can help us to better understand how hairs are formed and what happens when certain external stimuli are applied in the process. We can also continuously observe how melanosomes [organelles that process and hold melanin pigments] are passed on to the hairs and pigmented, which can be used to understand the causes of gray hairs and develop drugs to treat them.”
Hair Follicles Created in a Lab – Can They Helps Patients in the Future?
While this research news certainly offers the possibility of what might be a new hair regrowth method in the future, it still remains a future possibility and not a definitive hair loss treatment in the present day.
In order to determine both the cause of the hair loss and the treatment options, patients need to undergo a thorough medical examination by a medical professional who is board-certified and an expert in treating hair loss conditions. The doctor can examine the scalp of the patient to identify the reason for the hair loss along with the extent of the hair loss and the ideal treatment option (such as a hair transplant).
The new research described in this article not only contributes to the current understanding of how hair follicles develop, there is also a possibility that it might have useful applications when it comes to the future treatment of hair loss.
Fukuda added, “For hair regenerative medicine application, our method prepares hair follicles with hair shafts before transplantation, which may greatly improve the efficiency of hair regeneration compared to the method that produces hair follicles after cells or cell aggregates are transplanted into the skin. Our approach is similar to current hair transplantation.”
While the research described above is focused on cells found in rodents, the next step would be to attempt the process with human cells for further study and research.