Reporting Kimberly Gill
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Could it be a cure for baldness?
Researchers may have found a breakthrough for millions of balding men and women. For the first time, researchers have generated new human hair.
Few men say they like going bald, or women for that matter. But that may be about to change.
For the first time, researchers at Columbia University Medical Center have been able to grow new human hair follicles from a handful of cells in the lab.
But growing new human hair turns out to be fairly complicated. The follicles “forget” where they came from.
“They begin to lose their memory that they came from a hair follicle, and so part of our job has been to try to restore that memory by growing them under different culture conditions,” said Dr. Angela Christiano, of Columbia University Medical Center.
Once scientists understood that they were able to transplant the lab-grown follicle cells into hairless human skin, within a few weeks, Dr. Christiano says, “about five out of our seven donors we were able to get hairs that were induced and even growing new hair shafts.”
The technique could be especially useful for people who don’t have enough donor hairs for a transplant, a common problem for balding women.
Another use would be for burn victims who can’t grow hair on their scarred skin.
But before you get too excited, so far this has just been done on human skin transplanted onto mice, so clinical trials are at least five years away.
But help for the hairless could be on the way.