A cure for baldness may be on the horizon as scientists successfully grow an unlimited amount of hair on mice using stem cells.
The breakthrough findings were shared at the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) conference on Thursday in Los Angeles.
Scientists from Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute have created hair follicles that grow through the skin using human induced pluripotent stem cells on mice – which could eventually be used to resolve baldness in humans.
According to researchers, dermal papilla cells cannot usually be obtained in large enough amounts to be useful for restoring hair growth. But growing them from stem cells has now meant scientists can create an unlimited supply for transplantation.
The process would involve the human stem cells being attached to a 3D biodegradable scaffold made from the same material as dissolvable stitches. This scaffold would then control the direction of hair growth and helped the stem cells integrate into the skin.
Speaking at the International Society for Stem Cell Research in Los Angeles, Dr Richard Chaffoo from the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in La Jolla, California said, “It could improve the lives of millions”.
“Hair loss profoundly affects many people’s lives. A significant part of my practice involves both men and women who are seeking solutions to their hair loss,” he added.