(NewsTarget) Scientists have found a way to induce the regeneration of hair follicles and the regrowth of hair in mice. This new research that may provide clues to regrowing hair in humans, according to a study published in the journal Nature.
Researchers inflicted large, shallow wounds in the backs of mice. Once the wounds had reached a certain size, a process similar to embryonic development was activated. Stem cells were transported to the damaged skin, and actual regeneration of the removed hair follicles occurred. These follicles then grew hair normally, although the hair was lacking in pigmentation (and therefore white). The regeneration worked better when the scientists artificially applied a certain signaling protein to the skin.
"[The stem cells are] actually coming from epidermal cells that don't normally make hair follicles. So they're somehow reprogrammed and told to make a follicle," said lead researcher George Cotsarelis of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Cotsarelis said that the study disproved the widespread belief that mammal skin is incapable of regenerating hair follicles.
In an accompanying review, Cheng-Ming Chuong of the University of Southern California speculated as to why this effect has never before been observed in humans or other mammals. It is possible, Cheng-Ming wrote, the regeneration can only occur in larger wounds, the kind that are normally bandaged or stitched up in humans.
It is also possible that the regeneration would not work the same way in mammals other than mice.
Cotsarelis warned people not to try stimulating hair growth by inflicting wounds on themselves. "I'm kind of afraid of people misinterpreting this and incising the scalp," he said. "Don't try this at home."
Furthermore, he said, without the application of the same signaling protein, hair growth would probably be fairly sparse.
Cotsarelis has helped to set up a company called Follica, which hopes to develop a human hair regrowth treatment based on the findings of the study and a patent being filed by the University of Pennsylvania.
NewsTarget remains adamantly against all experimentation on animals and believes that these researchers are engaged in cruel actions that cause unnecessary pain and suffering to mice (which are warm-blooded mammals).