Tokyo — Transplanted hair follicles derived from adult stem cells have demonstrated normal hair cycles in bald mice, according to a recent study published in Nature Communications.
Researchers at Tokyo University of Science bioengineered hair follicle germ cells from adult epithelial stem cells and dermal papilla cells. They then implanted the bioengineered cells into the skin of bald mice, resulting in normal hair cycles and other signs of normal function, including piloerection, or goosebumps, Medical News Today reports. Along with normal functioning, the implanted hair follicles also developed the correct structures and made the right connections with surrounding tissue, according to the report.
“Our findings suggest that the transplantation of a bioengineered hair follicle germ can restore natural hair function and re-establish the cooperation between the follicle and the surrounding recipient muscles and nerve fibers,” the authors wrote. “Thus, the transplantation of bioengineered hair follicle germ is potentially applicable to the future surgical treatment of alopecia.”
Aside from raising hopes of a cure for baldness, the study is a significant advance toward next-generation organ replacement regenerative therapies, which will enable the replacement of damaged organs, according to the report. Notably, the study used adult stem cells, rather than embryonic, and it also marked the first time bioengineered follicles were fully functional and integrated into surrounding tissue, according to the report.
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