Scientists at Japan’s RIKEN Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research have achieved a breakthrough when it comes to finding a way to regenerate hair cells and encourage continual hair growth. Surprisingly, the answers were found in stem cells! The researchers were able to find certain characteristics of stem cells in the skin responsible for hair cell regeneration and the ingredients needed for hair follicle growth:
One challenge faced by researchers looking for ways to regenerate hair is finding a way to produce new hair follicles that continually cycle through this natural circle. Harvesting hair-follicle resident epithelial stem cells (HFSCs) is a possible way to regenerate hair in balding individuals, but not all HFSCs are capable of continually moving through these hair follicle phases. Many may grow a shaft of hair but fail to re-cycle into an anagen phase after that shaft is shed.
So the first breakthrough in the new study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, was uncovering the specific cellular biomarkers that distinguish the HFSCs most likely to present repetitive hair follicle cycling. Two HFSC markers (CD34 and CD49f) are generally used to identify these particular hair-producing stem cells, however, the new research discovered a third biomarker (Itgβ5) can most effectively distinguish the stem cells best suited to continual hair cycling.
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