Publishing in Cell Report, researchers at Indiana University are predicting a hair loss treatment will come from their ability to grow skin. We look closer.
The Times Said It!
We are not easily given to getting excited about news articles announcing strides forward in the search for a hair loss cure. That said, we will confess to a moment of elation when we read it in no less a newspaper than The Times. It really did only last a moment, the penny quickly dropped that the step that still remains is the far more complicated one. Never the less, the results announced by the team working under Professor Koehler at the University of Indiana warrant closer inspection, not to mention some praise.
Professor Koehler and his team were working with pluripotent stem cells, those magical cells that can grow, with the correct instructions, into any organ in the body - the body in question for the researchers on Koehler's team was a mouse. They set out to grow tiny little versions of the inner ear but noted that from the single "bud" they were also growing skin tissue. Even more interestingly they noted that they were producing both epidermis and dermis cells... which allowed hair follicles to form naturally, with a distribution and variety that is far more realistic than any attempt to grow skin with follicles using stem cells than anything we are aware of - and we have read a few.
We hasten to add that the team were not remotely looking for a hair loss cure - Indeed, the results of the work are being hailed for it's important implications for testing new drugs and for looking at the development of skin cancer.
HIS Hair Clinic
So we were momentarily suckered in by a plausible hair loss cure claim - which serves to remind us to stay on our toes. As the Times reporter put it "Once they figure out how to allow the follicles to complete their cycle of shedding and regenerating it could have important implications for toxicology and medicine." That may well be true, but it is also a very long way from where they are in their understanding of these processes today - we are certainly talking years rather than months. You can see the original article here
. But it would seem an important step forward has been taken in Indiana - congratulations to Professor Koehler and his team.
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