I think there are some big “takeaways” here:
The study was, by definition, about allogenic transfer of cultured cells, meaning from the tissue of one person to the tissue of another person. The human foreskin tissue (grafted onto the mice) was obviously taken from people other than the donors of the DP cells. The foreskin tissue was from recently circumcised infants; the DP cell donors were adults. I don’t think this has any direct bearing on the experimental results – I think it would have worked just as well if the skin grafted onto mice was from the same subject as the DP cells. However, this is interesting because if further confirms what Jarjarbinx has been saying here, that hair follicle cells such as DP cells are immuno-privileged, meaning when DP cells are transferred to an allogenic host, there is no sign of immune rejection. This may have implications down the line, but again, I don’t think it’s essential that the transfer be allogenic for it to grow follicles. To assume that would be muddled thinking. Jarjarbinx is getting very excited – I think too excited – about the idea of transplanting allogenic cultures. The fact is that there is nothing that we know that indicates allogenicity is key to its working. On the other hand, to assume that this finding in itself is insignificant or medically irrelevant is also muddled thinking. (My personal belief is that eventually, medical science and regulators might accept allogenic cell transplants, particularly using immuno-privileged cells – but this is not going to happen anytime soon, and it makes no sense right now for us to waste our energies pushing this idea, because there’s no reason at all to believe allogenicity is necessary for this technique to generate hair.)
The new hair follicles being created here are just that – brand new, de novo follicles. They can’t be revived miniaturized follicles, because human foreskin tissue has no hair follicles at all. Therefore I think Jahoda and Christiano are correct to say that this is the first ever proven example of creation of neogenic human hair follicles. Others who have implied this (Histogen) or have claimed it outright (Follica) have not proved it yet with incontrovertible evidence. However, the Jahoda/Christiano evidence is impossible to deny. They are creating brand new follicles.
The hairs being produced right now are very small. This is probably due to the fact that they’ve only partially protected the genetic transcription profile of the original in vivo DP cells. I believe they’ve reported that 22% of the donor DP cells’ relevant genes are working, and they said they were surprised they got that much hair to grow with only 22% of the important genes. Imagine if they were able to increase that to say, 50% or 60%, or 90%. You can see where this is leading. I think now that they know what they have to do, they are on track to gradually increasing the “in vivo” genetic profile, and getting better yields, thicker hair, etc. They are on track, but of course it won’t happen overnight.
The key here is reprogramming the cells. I believe this is an outside-the-box idea that Aderans never thought of; hence, Aderans never got this far. My guess is that they may have learned about Jahoda and Christiano’s success in the past year, through the “scientific grapevine” – and that’s why ARI lost funding from its parent company. They saw no more reason to dump additional money into HM when someone else had beaten them using a brand new idea which they had no rights to. If you read some of the relevant statements by Dr. Christiano, it was Dr. Jahoda who made this discovery and conceived this “reprogramming” technique, almost by chance. Obviously, Aderans hadn’t thought of this, otherwise ARI would still be funded.
This news has been all over the major networks and newspapers in the past 24 hours. There’s no doubt that this is real, significant news. Here are some sample links, from the New York Times and from the ABC Network in Australia: