In a hair raising advance, scientists from Sanford Burnham Prebys [sbpdiscovery.org] have grown hair using human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs.) [sbpdiscovery.org]
[m]ore than 80 million men, women and children in the United States [alone, who] experience hair loss. Genetics, aging, childbirth, cancer treatment, burn injuries and medical disorders such as alopecia can cause the condition. Hair loss is often associated with emotional distress that can reduce quality of life and lead to anxiety and depression.
“Our new protocol described today overcomes key technological challenges that kept our discovery from real-world use,” says Alexey Terskikh, Ph.D., an associate professor in Sanford Burnham Prebys’ Development, Aging and Regeneration Program and the co-founder and chief scientific officer of Stemson Therapeutics. “Now we have a robust, highly controlled method for generating natural-looking hair that grows through the skin using an unlimited source of human iPSC-derived dermal papilla cells. This is a critical breakthrough in the development of cell-based hair-loss therapies and the regenerative medicine field.”
The iPSCs [wikipedia.org] used are effectively unlimited in supply and obtainable via a routine blood draw. iPSCs are derived from an adult patient's own cells and are not subject to rejection or the ethical issues that surround embryonic stem cells. The method described in the presentation
features a 3D biodegradable scaffold made from the same material as dissolvable stitches. The scaffold controls the direction of hair growth and helps the stem cells integrate into the skin, a naturally tough barrier.
A new company, Stemson Therapeutics [stemsontx.com], has been formed to further develop and commercialize the technology.