Late night television is famous for its advertisements, including those regarding male pattern baldness.
If these ads are accurate, many men (and some women) suffer from some
sort of hair loss, thanks to a genetic predisposition. Although no cure has
yet been found, treatments range from hair implants to topical
solutions, but the effectiveness of these procedures are still debated.
What if there were a natural way to stimulate new hair growth? This is
where stem cells come in, and now, scientists at the University of
Pennsylvania have learned how to convert regular
adult stem cells into hair follicle-generating cells called epithelial
stem cells (EpSCs), which may lead to a better treatment for hair loss.
scientists began with normal human skin cells. They added three
specific genes to those cells, which gave those cells the ability to
become any kind of cell. After that, they carefully timed growing those
cells into epithelial stem cells, which are found in hair follicles. In
the study, they succeeded in converting more than 25% of the skin stem
cells into epithelial stem cells. These were added to mouse skin cells
and then grafted onto mice, resulting in a layer of skin almost
identical to the human epidermis, hair follicles included. In fact, this
new epidermis also contained actual hair shafts.
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