Lab-grown follicles could end baldness

Up to 20% of men experience some degree of baldness. And this, mainly due to social prejudices, can trigger psychological problems related to self-esteem and security. That is why each new advance in treatment is so encouraging and so well received. Like the one just carried out by several researchers from Yokohama National University in Japan: they have succeeded in cultivating hair follicles from stem cells.

”To achieve this, the team used a low-concentration hydrogel as support structures called extracellular matrices, altering the arrangement of two types of embryonic cells in culture and triggering the formation of a nucleus of epithelial cells , which in turn became surrounded by mesenchymal cells». Yes, it sounds literally alien, but the important thing is that all this bioengineering process resulted, 23 days in culture later, in fully mature follicles of about 3 millimeters in length and with an efficiency close to 100%. It was the first time it had been done. Functional hair follicles created from scratch.

Unlimited follicle transplants

Until now, operations against baldness have been limited by the amount of follicles available to the person . Specifically, the specialists take a certain amount of these from a part of the head and transplant them to the parts affected by alopecia, thus obtaining a more equitable distribution with an aesthetic result that is much more in line with what is desired. From now on, and once the production of hair follicles from stem cell morphogenesis is fully understood and commercially extended, specialists will be able to use an almost limitless store of laboratory hair follicles to carry out their services. A very great advance.

So far the treatment has passed the first phase. As they point out from this same medium, «the hair follicle organoids were transplanted into hairless mice, which generated new follicles in a matter of weeks.» In addition, the researchers decided to go one step further and added a color drug to the culture, which strengthened the pigmentation of the follicles, something very important in order to obtain hair of the right color. The next step? “ They will try to adapt the technology using human cells instead of rodent cells .” No, this technology will not be ready in a month. Maybe not for several months. But it could be the key in the future.