The good news is scientists are a step closer to being able to cure hair loss. Researchers in Japan have managed to grow skin along with hair follicles in a laboratory setting. Although testing is still in its early stages this is clearly fantastic news for hair loss sufferers and indeed for other individuals who have suffered burns or damage to their skin.
First time for fully functioning skin
Up until recently scientists have been able to create skin in their experiments. But in order for it to be fully functioning there needs to be three layers: the epidermis which is the outer layer of the skin, a layer of fatty tissue and the dermis which is where the growth of the hair follicles takes place. Using mice in laboratory experiments, the Japanese researchers have managed to facilitate growth of all three layers from stem cells. They now believe they have replicated skin in its truest sense as it really does function naturally.
The point of this new process is that it eventually could offer an extra option to people wishing to have hair transplants. At the moment people undergoing hair transplantation have hair transferred from other parts of the body in order to initiate a new growth. This new process would allow individuals to grow skin and hair follicles through the stem cells.
Many uses for the process
Scientists can see many uses for the procedure if it gets to the point where it can safely be used on human beings. For instance, it could help people who are suffering from burn injuries and long-term scars. It could be used as an alternative to animal testing in future scientific experiments. And of course it would open many gateways for sufferers of hair loss.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Dr Takashi Tsuji of the Riken centre for development Biology said “Up until now, artificial skin development has been hampered by the fact that the skin lacked the important organs, such as hair follicles and glands, which allow the skin to play its important role in regulation. With this new technique, we have successfully grown skin that replicates the function of normal tissue. “Our study contributes to the development of bioengineering technologies that will enable future regenerative therapies for patients with burns, scars, and alopecia.”
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