Medical

Stem cell breakthrough brings baldness cure one step closer

Stem cell breakthrough brings ...
The COVID-19 pandemic delayed plans for a human clinical trial for hair regeneration but the researchers are looking to get things back on track
The COVID-19 pandemic delayed plans for a human clinical trial for hair regeneration but the researchers are looking to get things back on track
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The COVID-19 pandemic delayed plans for a human clinical trial for hair regeneration but the researchers are looking to get things back on track
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The COVID-19 pandemic delayed plans for a human clinical trial for hair regeneration but the researchers are looking to get things back on track

A breakthrough study from scientists at Japan's RIKEN Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research has homed in on the specific characteristics of stem cells in the skin responsible for hair cell regeneration and also identified the optimal ingredients to generate continual hair follicle growth. The researchers suggest animal testing for their hair regeneration method is complete and ready for human clinical trials.

Human hair follicles are continually cycling through a number of different phases. The majority of the time a hair follicle is in the anagen phase, which is the active growth stage of hair.

At the end of the anagen phase a hair follicle enters a transitory stage called the catagen phase, leading into a resting state called the telogen phase. Once a hair follicle enters the telogen phase the shaft of hair will be naturally shed, after which the follicle then cycles back into the anagen phase and begins growing a new shaft.

One challenge faced by researchers looking for ways to regenerate hair is finding a way to produce new hair follicles that continually cycle through this natural circle. Harvesting hair-follicle resident epithelial stem cells (HFSCs) is a possible way to regenerate hair in balding individuals, but not all HFSCs are capable of continually moving through these hair follicle phases. Many may grow a shaft of hair but fail to re-cycle into an anagen phase after that shaft is shed.

So the first breakthrough in the new study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, was uncovering the specific cellular biomarkers that distinguish the HFSCs most likely to present repetitive hair follicle cycling. Two HFSC markers (CD34 and CD49f) are generally used to identify these particular hair-producing stem cells, however, the new research discovered a third biomarker (Itgβ5) can most effectively distinguish the stem cells best suited to continual hair cycling.

"We found almost 80 percent of follicles reached three hair cycles when Itgβ5 was also bioengineered into the hair follicle germ," explains Makoto Takeo, first author on the new study. "In contrast, only 13 percent reached three cycles when it was not present."

The study also demonstrates the efficacy of a new medium designed to culture the HFSCs. This medium, dubbed NFFSE, is a combination of collagen and five other factors.

An impressive 81 percent of HFSCs cultured in the NFFSE medium were seen to move through at least three complete hair cycle phases. When just one ingredient was pulled out of the NFFSE medium the researchers saw the majority of the HFSCs stall after just one hair cycle.

"Our culture system establishes a method for cyclical regeneration of hair follicles from hair follicle stem cells and will help make hair follicle regeneration therapy a reality in the near future,” explains Takashi Tsuji, lead researcher on the project.

Tsuji and his team have been working on this regenerative technology for well over a decade and say preclinical animal testing on this novel method was completed two years ago. A human clinical trial was set to commence last year but pandemic-related financial issues have set the trial back and the researchers are now looking for private donations to get the work up and running.

The new study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Source: RIKEN

10 comments
10 comments
dwc309
You ought to suggest to the people who conducted this study that they consider using crowdfunding to raise the money that they need. I'd bet that they'd do well with that.
CraigAllenCorson
I can't believe that any effort is being wasted on this when there are DISEASES that need to be cured! Here's me dying of emphysema, and they're working on a stem cell treatment, but THIS manages a breakthrough?
It really is all about the benjamins, isn't it? I have no more hope for the future.
CAVUMark
I would like to donate the area on top of my skull.
Bob Riker
@CraigAllenCorson Your viewpoint is myopic. There is plenty of room for scientists to study how to cure emphysema for smokers like you AND give me my hair back. A cure for baldness would help a lot of people and make the companies a ton of money too. Love this.
Signguy
Craig...it's ALWAYS about the money.
guzmanchinky
I'm actually considering hair transplants, I wonder if I could sign up for this study instead? Did UCLA come up with a revolutionary stem call baldness cure not that long ago? What happened to that?
TomWatson
NOW you find something. Too Late!
Школа Роста
Jeff Bezos will give you the investment.
San Diego Surfer
Craig- You can lecture if you want to but let me tell you- losing y hair was the absolute worst part of my life. I went from being a confident leader able to approach women, speak publicly and shine to feeling like a loser. Of course its idiotic but I was a long haired athletic romantic confident guy to "the bald guy". You have no idea the value society and women place on a virile full head of hair. Idiotic, moronic, insecure, mental problem but still so very real. I'm truly ashamed to feel this way- but I do feel this way. I would give a million dollars- literally- for a full head of hair. We don't need to go into the pain of multiple hair transplants and the waste of money and physical nightmares. I lived in the ocean- but haven't been in for decades. Every mirror I pass I look at my lack of hair in disgust. every single one. Every single time. Don't get a hair transplant guy who asked. Wait for this. You will regret hair transplants every single minute for the rest of your life. I shave them every single day. Wear a hat until this becomes reality. This is the best advice you've gotten in your entire life.
Ben Jars
@Bob Riker you do realise people can suffer emphysema without ever smoking?