The paper “Future Horizons in Hair Restoration” that was recently published by dr Washenik (from Aderans) sums it up:
“Recently, a big breakthrough was made by Li and colleagues, who created human follicles from cultured dermal and epidermal cells in a nu/nu mouse model. In their initial work, TSC2 null fibroblasts were combined with foreskin keratinocytes in a skin construct model. Once a nascent epidermal basal layer was formed in vitro, the skin construct was grafted on the back of a nu/nu mouse. The continued development of the skin resulted in the formation of hair follicles and sebaceous glands. This work represents the first published account of the formation of human hair from cultured cells.”
(He then talks about Jahoda’s group, including dr Higgins) ->
“In a separate system, Higgins and colleagues reported the formation of human hair using DP cells cultured as spheroids and combined with the epidermis of an excised human foreskin in a sandwich assay. For the first time, cultured human cells were used to form a completely human hair follicle. The expansion of these techniques provides a potentially unlimited supply of hair for the treatment of alopecia.”
“Recently, Toyoshima and colleagues (Tsuji Lab) created a bioengineered hair follicle germ using embryonic skin-derived epithelium and mesenchymal donor cells. The transplanted germ integrated with the host epithelium, producing a fully functional hair follicle demonstrating connection to the host nerves as well as to the piloerection ability. They further demonstrated that through the use of a guide, the interaction between these donor cells and the host epithelium was independent of placement depth. Taken together, these studies demonstrate that cells delivered in the appropriate package are able to integrate with the host tissue to produce a hair follicle. This technique would provide the clinician the ability to control the pattern, density, and orientation of the follicles resulting from this cell-based therapy.”
“A revolutionary breakthrough in the field of cell biology was the discovery of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). The work by Takahashi and colleagues described the ability of 4 transcription factors (SOX2, OCT4, c-MYC, and KLF-4) to reprogram differentiated fibroblasts into an embryonic stem cell state. From these cells, the creation of every lineage is possible.”
“Bilousova and colleagues have exploited this process to produce a multipotent keratinocyte lineage from mouse iPSCs. Retinoic acid, BMP4, and a collagen IV substrate were used to push the fate of the iPSCs to a keratinocyte lineage. The keratinocytes produced by this method demonstrated the ability to form skin and all of its appendages including the hair follicle. Itoh and colleagues used similar methods to generate human keratinocytes from iPSCs and produced 3-dimensional skin equivalents.
In this human model, appendages were not produced, but the foundation of reprogramming iPSCs into keratinocytes was established. iPSCs represent an unlimited supply of cells for each patient. The potential will be unlocked as research groups develop methods to differentiate iPSCs into follicular progenitor cells.”
He ends his paper with the following which is very positive
“Recent developments in the field of regenerative medicine indicate that a cell-based solution for alopecia is coming soon. Multiple groups have produced human hair follicles using cultured cells in a mouse model. Strategies are being developed to expand and maintain trichogenic cells in culture. iPS cells provide an additional strategy to obtain follicular progenitor cells. The challenge is to exploit these methods and determine the most efficient and efficacious method of culture, expansion, and delivery of follicular progenitor cells.”
We’re close, man. Of course not 1-2 years but I’d be really amazed if there would be no real cure available in 8 years from now. These recent breakthroughs are undeniably HUGE.