Snippet from the article:
We may now be a hair’s breadth away from a cure for baldness. For the first time, new human hairs have been coaxed into growing from specialised skin cells that can be multiplied in number to potentially create a full head of hair.
Hair-raising remedies for hair loss currently consist of hormonal drugs to slow the process and hair transplants – where a section of hair follicles is moved from one area of the head to another. Finding a way to grow more hair, however, has proved difficult.
Hair growth in adults occurs naturally in a process known as hair neogenesis – where cells called dermal papilla cells that span the top two layers of skin coax surrounding cells to form hair follicles. One reason hair loss occurs is when papillae stop working.
Read the rest at New Scientist — 3D drops raise hopes of cure for baldness
I posted a few links about this research last month, but I just read this article in New Scientist about the recent work by Dr. Colin Jahoda, who presented this material at the 2013 ISHRS meeting, and wanted to write a bit more about it.
The key to his findings was his ability to produce hair by growing dermal papilla cells in a 3D manner. The process starts with the isolation of the dermal papilla cells, then let them grow and multiply so that their numbers increase. These cells are obtained from discarded hair transplant tissue and once put into a nutrient broth, some 30 hours later, each drop of solution contains about 3000 dermal papilla cells. These cells were injected into neonatal foreskin which is known to be hairless, easily available as it is taken from babies who were circumcised. The donor cells comes from between 5-7 patients. After about 6 weeks of growth in a 3D matrix solution there is growth and some hair actually can be seen.
Dr. Jahoda believes that the key to his success was the use of a 3D matrix for growing the dermal papilla. The dermal papilla cells reprogram the skin cells as they grow and these reprogrammed cells form hair follicles. He believes that this will eventually lead to “hair cloning” therapies and the end result, he hopes, will not even require a surgical procedure like hair transplantation. Now that he knows which genes need to be expressed, drugs might even be developed that can reactivate the dermal papilla precursors in the scalp of balding people. Dr. Melanie McDowell from the University of Adelaide in Australia said, “The cool thing about hair follicles is you already have the channel into them, so topical creams have a good chance of getting down into where they’re needed.”
I would expect that this would take years to identify the appropriate drug and then take the process through the FDA. For our audience reading this post, please be patient and give the researchers some room to finish defining the process and finding that “magic cream” they are looking for.