Updated: Dec 6, 2020
CureScience™ is a non-profit institution dedicated to discovering curative therapies for cancer, immune and neurological disorders as well as utilizing regenerative medicine to cure a variety of human health challenges.
Biomedical research into hair cell regeneration has been ongoing for decades and more recently has accelerated due in part to novel approaches to regenerative medicine. Hair loss in men and women can be a psychological crippling problem effecting self-esteem, stress levels as well as other disorders such as hearing and balance disorders caused by loss of the sensory hair cells that convert sound vibrations and head movements into electrical signals that are conveyed to the brain. Depicted below is the “life cycle” of the growth of hair. The first phase, Anagen, is the growth phase wherein the hair follicle is most active; the second phase, Catagen, is the degenerative phase where the dermal papilla stem cells begin to disintegrate leading to a resting phase called Telogen. The hair remains until Anagen is reactivated pushing out the mature hair shaft and bringing in the new hair.Hair loss is dependent upon several factors including but not limited to: inherited (trichodystrophy and androgenetic alopecia), accompanying comorbidity conditions, hormonal clutters (thyroid organ disease, insulin resistance), immune system (patchy alopecia and lupus erythematous), nutritional issues, environmental elements (drugs, ultraviolet (UV) radiation), mental disorders (stress and trichotillomania), and aging.
Androgenetic alopecia (AGA) is a typical, chronic hair loss disorder, described by dynamic hair loss, experienced by as much as 80% of white men and 40% of woman. The standard treatments for AGA are minoxidil, finasteride, and hair transplant. Prior to the discovery that minoxidil had mild regenerative effects on scalp hair loss, most remedies were typically “snake oil” concoctions of no therapeutic benefit. Interestingly, almost 30% of women in the UK more often incur hair loss due to Chronic (Idiopathic) Telogen Effluvium CTE [D.H. Ruston & M.J. Norris, unpublished data]. While there are no known cures for CTE, this hair shedding process sometimes will reverse itself. Another type of common hair loss is known as alopecia areata. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease. The immune system, which normally helps protect your body from disease, starts attacking hair follicles. Currently, there is no cure for alopecia areata. However, an NIH-funded study recently discovered that a class of drugs called Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors can stop, and even reverse, the disease. Dr. Angela Christiano, a skin disease expert at Columbia University, showed that JAK inhibitors block the damaging effects of the immune system on hair follicles.
The cyclical growth of the hair follicle is maintained by multipotent stem cells that lie within a region called the bulge, generally located at the base of the permanent portion of the follicular outer root sheath. Hair follicle pluripotent stem (hfPS) cells have been shown to differentiate into neurons, glia, keratinocytes, smooth muscle cells, and melanocytes in vitro. Human hfPS cells were transplanted in the severed sciatic nerve of the mouse where they differentiated into glial fibrillary-acidic-protein (GFAP)-positive Schwann cells and promoted the recovery of pre-existing axons, leading to nerve generation. According to these researchers, hfPS derived stem cells do not have the immunologic rejection and malignant potential often associated with embryonic stem (ES) cells and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS), respectively. Peitro Gentile et al. completed a review article in 2019 and reported that autologous stem cells (SCs) have been of particular interest for application in hair regrowth. They concluded “the current knowledge in biology, the limits of past translational research that included development of pre-clinical and clinical models, harnessing of new strategies for more accurate imaging, and biomarker-based diagnostics will provide a strong basis to advance viable clinical approaches for regenerative aims in hair tissue engineering. Moreover, larger, randomized, double-blinded, controlled trials are needed to optimize cell administration protocols and to confirm the early observations of promising clinical outcomes”.
The advances being made in regenerative medicine utilizing stem cells of multiple origins is a field that continues to expand exponentially into mitigating or curing numerous human disorders. These advances are having an impact today and will continue to bear a more important role in the future as our understanding of the scope and limitations of the use of stems cells becomes more apparent.
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Written by Lawrence D. Jones, PhD, Science Writer
Keywords: CureScience™, MSCs, MSC, Hair Loss, Hair, Follicle