Scientists have successfully regenerated hair on a bald mouse by implanting pigmented follicles created from adult stem cells in a breakthrough that could lead to a possible cure for baldness, according to a new study.

Lead researcher professor Takashi Tsuji of Tokyo University of Science and his team cultivated stem cells taken from two types of skin stem cells in the hair follicles of mice and transplanted the cells into the follicles of hairless mice.

Researchers reported that within three weeks 74 the bioengineered follicles, implanted on the backs of mice, grew back hair, and formed proper connections with nerves and the surrounding tissues, showing that bioengineered follicles reconstructed from adult epithelial stem cells and dermal papilla cells had become fully functional and were able to regrow hair even after the hair was pulled out. 

Additionally, mice also grew hair when human stem cells, collected from the scalp of a balding man were used, according to the study published in the journal Nature Communications.

Scientists said that in the future tens of thousands of stem cells extracted from a sample of skin taken from a balding man’s scalp could be cultivated into healthy follicles and injected back into a balding patch on the head.

The findings also showed that by adding a particular type of stem cell to the bioengineered follicle, mice were able to grow colored rather than white hair, meaning that in the future men could potentially restore both the hair and its color from their youth.

Researchers said that another key finding from the study was that it demonstrated that stem cells that are grown into organs or tissues, which usually need to be extracted from embryos, could also be extracted from adult stem cells as the latest research found with hair follicles. 

"Our current study thus demonstrates the potential for not only hair regeneration therapy but also the realization of bioengineered organ replacement using adult somatic stem cells," the authors wrote.

“Our study provides a substantial contribution to the development of bioengineering technologies that will enable future regenerative therapy for hair loss caused by injury or by diseases such as alopecia and androgenic alopecia,” researchers wrote.

 

“Further studies on the optimization of human hair follicle-derived stem cell sources for clinical applications and further investigations of stem cell niches will contribute to the development of hair regenerative therapy as a prominent class of organ replacement regenerative therapy in the future,” they concluded.