News from California suggests a research team there might be on the brink of the hair loss cure from our dreams. A simple treatment that can permanently cure hair loss regardless of how far advanced. We take a closer look.
The science of stem cells has always held the promise of a permanent cure for hair loss. These remarkable biological devices with the potential to become any type of human cell teased at that possibility.
The story started in 1981 when scientists found a way to harvest embryonic stem cells from mice. It would take nearly two decades from there to develop the techniques necessary to be able to take stem cells from humans and grown them in a laboratory.
A key step forward took place in 2006, when researchers learned how to reprogramme certain adult cells to take on a stem cell-like state, they called the resulting cells “induced pluripotent stem cells” (ISPCs).
This Californian based biotech only launched last year and their website just appeared in the last week… on the back of a remarkable announcement which no doubt highlighted the need for their communications to improve.
They sent one of their team, Antonella Pinto PhD, to present their work at the 2019 get-together of the International Society for Stem Cell Research.
She held the conference spellbound as she described their work with mice. Up till now, the team has been using mouse epithelial cells with human dermal papilla cells… work on using human cells for the whole process is already started. What underpins their great results is a 3D scaffold, made from the same material as dissolvable stitches, which provides a growing environment for the papilla cells. Importantly, it also controls the direction that the hair will grow… overcoming at a stroke one of the principal issues currently associated with hair transplantation.
The existing treatment requires cells to be taken from the patient to initiate the process. We are only talking a small amount of blood. Those cells are used to harvest and create ISPCs which are in turn converted to folliculogenic cells ready for transplanting back to the patient.
The ambition is to achieve “allogenic” transplantation. This would see the team able to transplant cells into a patient which started their life elsewhere… so in theory, you could walk into a clinic and be treated on the spot.
HIS Hair Clinic
It almost sounds too good to be true. A simple hair loss treatment that can deliver unlimited new follicles… where do we sign up we hear you ask. Well, work has already begun towards testing the technique on humans. Maybe just as encouraging are the list of partners Stemson Therapeutics boast. They include some of the most senior names in the field of follicle research, along with the pharmaceuticals giant Allergan, makers of Botox, themselves recently acquired for $63B by US drug firm AbbVie.
You can rest assured we will be keeping an extremely close eye on developments.
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