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Renewal of Hair Follicles From Adult Stem Cells

The cyclic regeneration of hair follicles begins in the stem (germ) cells near the bulge area at the base of the telogen follicle. Dr. Yann Barrardon, a cell specialist at the National Institute of Science, said that his team, "grew a piece of skin with hair follicles and sebaceous glands for the first time..." in a mammal from stem cells. Stem cells are premature cells that can develop into almost any type of cell in the body. Yann Barrandon said that his team's work "...provides the first direct proof of the existence of these cells and their capacities to reproduce skin."

The experiments were done on mice, but there is expectation among some dermatologists that they will soon be able to replace the skin of burn victims and possibly help people with male pattern baldness.

Comment: The stem cells in humans are located in the area where the hair muscle (erector pili muscle) joins the follicle (see the drawing). Each follicle contains over a thousand of these cells. These cells, depending on where they migrate, can potentially form skin, sweat and sebaceous glands, and hair follicles.

Scientists are trying to find ways to guide these cells so as to form specific tissues. Since there is an almost unlimited supply of these cells in the donor's scalp, and no tissue rejection to be concerned with, people with hair loss problems might have a new treatment option in the future.

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