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New research shows that stem cells could hold a cure for hair loss



Although hair care companies may tell you otherwise, there is no cure for hair loss. Whether it's time-tested remedies like Rogaine or new startups like Hims, most of these products just slow hair loss or thicken hair strands. You can not prevent it or bring back all your lost hair. That could change soon. Recent research has shown that stem cells – cells that can develop into other types of cells – can be the key to rebuilding true, healthy hair when your mane is thinned out.

Stem cells are promising because the body naturally produces hair. According to an article by James Hamblin, MD, a Preventive Medicine doctor and employee of Atlantic every hair follicle requires thousands of stem cells, called dermal papillae, to produce a single hair. Over time, these dermal papillae disappear and the follicle slumbers. Many dormant follicles cause baldness. Currently, hair transplants are the only way to treat really bald spots. However, the treatment is expensive and only limited success.

Creating new, healthy strands of hair is the holy grail of hair loss prevention, and recent research has shown that stem cells are a viable option for doing so. The research is based on cell therapy, in which a person's own stem cells are removed from their blood and then used to grow needed tissue, eg. B. insulin-producing pancreatic tissue for people with type 1

diabetes. Theoretically, it could also work on hair.

A company called Stemson Therapeutics is working on such a treatment. The company is developing "hairpowers" that use stem cells taken from blood samples to form healthy hair follicles that can then be implanted on a human's scalp, Hamblin explains in The Atlantic . The company has already completed successful implants of human hair in mice.

Even then, it's not that easy. The growth of hair follicles in the laboratory is difficult. If the cells are not kept close to each other, they will not produce hair.

"If you can keep the cells together in their teardrop shape so that they continue to signal each other, they will continue to grow into hair follicles," said New York dermatologist dr. Robert Bernstein on The Atlantic .

Once the new follicle is done, it must be implanted in the skin at a precise angle to the skin. Otherwise, the hair will grow in or grow out at an unnatural angle.

"Simply inserting the follicle into the skin means a lot of ingrown hair and many strange directions," said Geoff Hamilton, CEO of Stemson Therapeutics.

Fortunately, new research will address this problem as well. Hamilton's company is developing a synthetic scaffold that will support the follicle after implantation and allow the hair to grow at the right angle. The company has teamed up with Allergan, a major pharmaceutical company, to develop the device. It is estimated that in about one and a half years experiments with humans will begin.

Another solution is Jell-O. Angela Christiano, a professor of genetics and dermatology at Columbia University, has developed a 3D-printed Jell-O shape that holds the follicle in place as the stem cells begin to grow hair. She published her findings last December in the journal Nature Communications and wrote that the mold could have a "transformative impact" on the regrowing hair.

Could these new methods finally bring about a real cure for hair loss? It is too early for a statement, but the experts are confident.

"It's a tremendous breakthrough," Bernstein said The Atlantic . "There are many other factors that need to be found out, but that is definitely very exciting."

Read the full story at The Atlantic.


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