A Hair-Raising Discovery

Researchers in Japan have developed a method for large-scale preparation of hair-producing tissues.

AsianScientist (Feb. 9, 2018) – In a study published in Biomaterials, a team of scientists in Japan have developed a method for the mass preparation of cellular aggregates, also known as hair follicle germs (HFGs), that may lead to a treatment for hair loss.

Although hair loss is not life-threatening, it troubles a substantial number of individuals all over the world, particularly in aging societies. Hair regenerative medicine involves regenerating hair follicles, the tiny organs that grow and sustain hair. However, one of the more challenging obstacles to hair regenerative medicine has been the preparation of hair follicle germs, the reproductive source of hair follicles, on a large scale.

In this study, a research group led by Professor Junji Fukuda of Yokohama National University in Japan was able to successfully prepare up to 5,000 HFGs simultaneously.

“The key to mass production of HFGs was the choice of substrate materials used for the culture vessel,” said Fukuda. “We used oxygen-permeable dimethylpolysiloxane (PDMS) at the bottom of culture vessel, and it worked very well.”

The research group further evaluated the feasibility of this method by transferring the prepared HFGs from a fabricated 300-microwell array, called a ‘HFG chip,’ to generate hair follicles and hairs in mice. The group confirmed that black hair grew at both the back and scalp transplantation sites of the mice. Importantly, the regenerated hair exhibited the typical hair cycle of murine hair, suggesting good integration with the surrounding tissue.

“This simple method is very robust and promising. We hope that this technique will improve human hair regenerative therapy to treat hair loss such as androgenic alopecia,” said Fukuda. “In fact, we have preliminary data suggesting that human HFG formation is possible using human keratinocytes and dermal papilla cells.”

The article can be found at: Kageyama et al. (2018) Spontaneous Hair Follicle Germ (HFG) Formation in vitro, Enabling the Large-scale Production of HFGs for Regenerative Medicine.


Source: Yokohama National University; Photo: Pixabay.
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