What this means for hair loss: Hair follicles can now be grown in the lab

What this means for hair loss: Hair follicles can now be grown in the lab
The Hair Society of America reports that approximately 35 million men and 21 million women in the United States suffer from hair loss. While hair loss is part of everyday life (the American Academy of Dermatology says it's common to lose 50 to 100 hairs each day), thinning hair and bald patches on the scalp can be traumatic and It can be annoying to notice. There are certainly popular remedies with proven options prescribed by a dermatologist or available over-the-counter to alleviate these concerns and bring back thicker, fuller hair.

Research from Japan now sheds light on the potential for new hair growth methods that may have implications for hair loss treatments, animal testing, and drug screening in general. (tubular pores surrounding hair strands and roots) were created in vitro in the laboratory. This is a development that experts say could pave the way for better hair loss treatments and a clearer understanding of how hair follicles generally develop.

A hair loss treatment breakthrough
In a new study published in Science Advances, a team of researchers at Yokohama National University created hair follicles in culture. In a press release, the research team explains that the research will focus on the practice of culturing "organoids" (small "simple versions" of organs). Better understand organs and tissues. The researchers explain that once the embryo is formed, something like a series of messages pass back and forth between the epidermal layer of the skin and the skin's mesenchyme, or connective tissue.

These signals stimulate the formation of hair follicles known as morphogenesis. In this process, the cells of an organism come together to form the organs and tissues of the body. They point out how it has been difficult for past researchers to fully understand what is going on behind hair follicle development, and that this process of hair follicle morphogenesis has so far been difficult to understand. It has not been replicated in culture dishes.In this study, the researchers used rodent embryonic cells. This is because, according to the study, "this is due to the shorter duration of hair formation and higher hair-inducing activity and availability compared to human-derived cells."

Dr. Junji Fukuda, professor of engineering at Yokohama National University and study author, told Healthline, "We were surprised that we were able to obtain hair follicle tissue capable of producing hair by culturing it." We were able to increase the hair formation potential from less than 1% (1 out of 300 cell aggregates) to almost 100% (300 out of 300 cell aggregates). In the study, they were able to create tiny hair follicles by controlling the structures created by this shuttling communication between embryonic cells through a network within the body, the low-concentration extracellular matrix. rice field. Press According to his release, the team grew hair shafts and follicles "with nearly 100% efficiency," producing "fully mature hair follicles with long hair shafts."

The generated follicles were fully matured and approximately 3 mm in length after 23 days of culture. Researchers were then able to study this morphogenetic process and hair pigmentation in vitro, allowing us to better understand the processes between the signals that drive this follicle growth. “Our system allows us to continuously monitor in vitro the process of new hair follicle formation. "It also allows us to continuously observe how melanosomes (organelles that process and retain melanin pigment) are handed down to the hair for pigmentation." This can be used to understand what causes gray hair and to develop drugs to treat it.”

How hair loss treatments are determined
“To determine what causes hair loss and how best to treat it, doctors take a thorough medical history. “Healthcare providers also ask about physical or emotional stressors that may have contributed to hair loss and request a list of current medications.”

Next, the doctor will visually inspect the scalp. This is because different types of hair loss appear to the naked eye in different ways.If the underlying cause is still unknown after this type of examination, your doctor may recommend blood tests and perform a scalp biopsy. , he added, even looking at the samples under a microscope.

"If an underlying condition, such as thyroid disease or anemia, is causing hair loss, the condition must be treated to reverse the hair loss. There are a number of medications that can cause hair loss, such as certain blood pressure medications. If you're taking one of these drugs and you're experiencing hair loss, your doctor may switch to another," said Young. Conditions such as alopecia areata, which are characterized by "hair loss", may "regrow on their own without treatment" over months or a year.

Hair loss treatments currently available
Currently accepted treatments include medication, lasers and hair restoration surgery, Young added. The most common treatments for male pattern baldness include drugs such as minoxidil, commonly known under the brand name Rogaine, and finasteride, commonly known under the brand name Propecia.

He added that minoxidil is an over-the-counter drug that comes in liquid or foam form and comes in two strengths.

"It takes at least 3-4 months for the first results of topical minoxidil, he takes 1-2 years for optimal results. To maintain the effect, use the drug indefinitely." is needed. The most common side effects of topical minoxidil are irritation, itching, or redness of the scalp. may experience

Apart from minoxidil, finasteride is a prescription drug for men who suffer from hair loss. It may take you and your provider months or months to decide if is right for you.

“Uncommon side effects of finasteride include erectile dysfunction and decreased libido. It is important that women who are pregnant or may become pregnant avoid contact with crushed or broken tablets, as they can lead to birth defects."

As for hair restoration or hair transplantation, Young said, dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons remove existing hair from areas of the scalp where there is hair and transplant it into areas of the scalp that are thinning. is. He added, "Multiple surgical sessions can typically be required to achieve the desired level of improvement, and the procedure can be very expensive." "Low-level laser treatments were approved by the FDA several years ago and may help treat hereditary alopecia in both men and women," added Young.

The implications for hair growth and beyond
This new study has far-reaching implications for contributing to a better understanding of the processes behind hair formation.

When asked about the significance of future research, Fukuda said, The final developed system should provide more accurate results than the conventional one, as drug candidates can be screened based on the results." culture dish.

“Our application of hair regenerative medicine is a method of creating hair follicles with a hair shaft before transplantation, which is more efficient than the method of creating hair follicles after transplanting cells or cell clusters into the skin. Our approach is similar to current hair transplants,” he added. This research has implications for regenerative medicine fields other than hair growth. Given that hair follicles are small organs that regenerate outside the body, the results of his team's work suggest that the "initial arrangement of cells in aggregates" should be optimized to maximize their regenerative capacity at these early stages. Fukuda says it provides an "important perspective" on regulation. Take advantage of embryonic development.

Although this study clearly focused on rodent cells, the next step is to use human cells to model this process.

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