Scientists from the United States and the United Kingdom might have found a cure for baldness. The team harvested cells from the human scalp that causes hair to grow, cloned them in the laboratory, and transplanted them on the back of mice.New hair grew on the skin graft for six weeks. While it may take a while before the method will be fit for humans, this is great news for people suffering from baldness conditions such as alopecia areata.

At the moment, hair loss is treated by stimulating the scalp to promote hair growth. Hair transplants are also available where hair follicles are harvested from one portion of the head to another. Typically, hair is sourced from the back of the head so the scar of the operation will not be so noticeable.

The new study published on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that dermal papillae, cells found on base of a hair follicle that makes the follicle grow, can be harvested from a balding individual's scalp, multiply their numbers in a laboratory culture, and inject them on the person's bald spots.

The concept was inspired by the ability of the papillae cells of mice that can help regrow hair when transplanted. The hair-growing cells actually reprogram surrounding cells to become hair follicle. However, this is not the case for human dermal papillae cell, which lose the ability to regrow hair follicles when cultured on a laboratory dish. The scientists again looked into the characteristics of the rodents' papilla and see what can be applied to the humans'. They found out that the papilla of mice formed clumps on a petri dish while that of humans did not, so the team revised their methods and produced cells that stimulate hair growth.

The researchers harvested papillae cells from seven subjects that were doing hair transplants. They cultured the cells using their hanging drops method and injected them into foreskin grafted on the rodents' backs.

" [This research should] make hair transplantation available to individuals with a limited number of follicles, including those with female-pattern hair loss, scarring alopecia, and hair loss due to burns," said Professor Angela Christiano of the Columbia University Medical Center in a statement. Christiano, a dermatologist and a hair geneticist, has taken interest in the field of baldness research because she once suffered from alopecia areata.

The proponents of the study still need to do a lot of work to make the new protocol suitable for humans. They need to determine different aspects such as hair color, texture, positioning, and angle.They also need to understand more the interaction that will happen between the host cells and the transplanted hair.

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