(ORDO NEWS) — A group of Japanese scientists working on hair growth and pigmentation have successfully grown hair follicles in culture.
Now this technology can help not only those suffering from baldness, but also pharmacologists and cosmetologists who are developing new drugs and hair care products.
Hair follicles are formed in the skin by the interaction of two types of tissues: epithelial and mesenchymal , however, the exact mechanism for the formation of the hair bud is still not fully understood.
Until now, scientists have studied the process of morphogenesis (transformation of cells into organs and tissues) of hair follicles in animal models, but now they will be able to work directly with human hair cultures in vitro, that is, “in vitro”.
This has been made possible by organoid cultures, which use miniature functional versions of the complex organs of humans and other animals.
Organoid cultures of the brain, liver, placenta and kidneys are already known, and now scientists have been able to obtain tiny live models of hair follicles, just like real ones, that have begun to form a hair shaft.
To obtain such follicles, embryonic cells and a certain amount of extracellular matrix were used , which served to structure the resulting tissue.
As the follicle grew, scientists were able to track all the chemical processes taking place in it and clarify which substances play a key role in the formation of a new hair.
The resulting hair culture produced new follicles with almost 100% efficiency: already on the 23rd day of cultivation, tiny three-millimeter hairs appeared.
By adding to the culture a drug that stimulates melanocytes (these are specialized skin cells that produce melanin pigment ), the scientists achieved dyeing of the resulting hair, and when the resulting hair follicles were transplanted, the culture produced new ones, starting the full cycle of hair formation.
The results of the study may be useful not only in the treatment of alopecia, or baldness , but also in the development of new drugs or hair care products, which were previously tested mainly on laboratory animals.
Now, having the opportunity to study the effect of the drug on human hair in culture, pharmacologists and cosmetologists will increase not only the accuracy, but also the ethics of their research.
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