Monday, February 16, 2015

Stem Cells May Hold Key to Reversing Hair Loss

The medical term for hair loss is alopecia. It's a blanket term referring to any kind of hair loss. Loss of hair can be due to a number of reasons, caused by a number of factors ranging from the environment to genetics. Androgenetic alopecia, more commonly known as male or female pattern baldness, is the most common form of hair loss. For alopecias non-androgenetic in nature, cases of scarring alopecia, ringworm, telogen effluvium, alopecia areata and hair loss as a result of cosmetic overprocessing are most commonly seen by dermatologists.

Compared to other health conditions, hair loss and other hair diseases get very little attention, resulting in sparse research which yields very few solutions to those suffering from them. Hair research still has ways to go but the great strides Terskikh and colleagues took with their work on stem cells and hair transplants offer a lot of hope for those dealing with alopecia.

The researchers came up with a means to coax human pluripotent stem cells into becoming dermal papilla cells, a unique group of cells responsible for regulating the formation and growth of hair follicles. On their own, dermal papilla cells are not ideal for transplants because they are not able to sustain their ability to induce the formation of hair follicles in culture and are simply not available in enough amounts.

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