Oxygen Breathes Life Into Hair Regeneration Research


Hair today, gone… never? Research published in Biomaterials may have uncovered a new treatment for hair loss after researchers were able to simultaneously prepare up to 5,000 hair follicle germs (HFG) —cellular aggregates that are the reproductive root of hair follicles—in vitro.

Though it is typical to lose 50­–100 hairs per day, hereditary hair loss and various forms of alopecia take a toll on the hairlines of millions of Americans (according to the American Academy of Dermatology).

To address this, researchers combined mouse epidermal and mouse/human mesenchymal cells in a suspension, which were seeded in microwells of a custom array plate that included oxygen-permeable dimethylpolysiloxane. Left over a three-day culture period, cells first formed a randomly distributed single cell aggregate before spatially separating. The self-sorted HFGs (ssHFG) were then transplanted to the backs of mice via hydrogel encapsulation.

Researchers credit the formation of ssHFGs to the integrity of the oxygen supply through the bottom of the silicone plate.

"This simple method is very robust and promising. We hope that this technique will improve human hair regenerative therapy to treat hair loss such as androgenic alopecia. In fact, we have preliminary data that suggests human HFG formation using human keratinocytes and dermal papilla cells," said Junji Fukuda, professor, Yokohama National University, in a press release.

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