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Converting Adult Human Cells, the Answer for Balding?

Update Date: Jan 28, 2014 03:54 PM EST
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For some men, balding can start extremely early due to genetics. Even though there are certain treatments out there, their effectiveness can vary greatly. Blading can lead to mental issues such as anxiety, insecurity and even depression. In a new study, researchers examined the potential use of converting adult human cells in order to create hair-follicle-generating stem cells.

In this study, researcher Xiaowei "George" Xu, MD, PhD, associate professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Dermatology at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania and colleagues were able to successfully change adult cells into epithelial stem cells (EpSCs).

When the researchers implanted EpSCs in mice that had their immune systems compromised, they discovered that the cells were capable of promoting hair regrowth. The researchers found that the cells were able to help regenerate cell types of human skin and hair follicles. The mice were able to produce hair shaft. The researchers believe that this could be the first step in promoting hair regrowth in humans.

The researchers were able to create EpSCs starting with human dermal fibroblasts. They added three genes to these skin cells, which converted them into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). iPSCs have the ability to become any cell types within the body. The team differentiated iPSCs into EpSCs.

"This is the first time anyone has made scalable amounts of epithelial stem cells that are capable of generating the epithelial component of hair follicles," Xu said according to the press release. "When a person loses hair, they lose both types of cells. We have solved one major problem, the epithelial component of the hair follicle. We need to figure out a way to also make new dermal papillae cells, and no one has figured that part out yet."

The findings were published in Nature Communications.

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