Stem cell therapy has been suggested as a possible future treatment for baldness for years. A recent research provides a potential treatment for baldness, researchers have used stem cells from mice to develop a skin patch that is complete with hair follicles in a laboratory.
They used a skin model to develop both epidermis (upper) and dermis (lower) layers of skin, which grow together in a process that allows hair follicles to form the same way as they would in a mouse’s body.
The novel skin tissue more closely resembles natural hair than existing models and may prove useful for testing drugs, understanding hair growth, and reducing the practice of animal testing, the researchers said.
“You can see the organoids with your naked eye,” said Karl Koehler, assistant professor at the Indiana University. “It looks like a little ball of pocket lint that floats around in the culture medium. The skin develops as a spherical cyst, and then the hair follicles grow outward in all directions, like dandelion seeds.”
In the study, published in Cell Reports, Koehler and team originally began using pluripotent stem cells from mice, which can develop into any type of cells in the body, to create organoids — miniature organs in vitro — that model the inner ear.
The researchers were producing skin cells in addition to interior ear cells. Thus, they made a decision to coax the skin cells into sprouting hair roots. Moreover, they discovered that mouse skin organoid technique could be used as a blueprint to generate human skin organoids.
The researchers say the skin they developed grew a variety of hair follicle types similar to those present naturally on the coat of a mouse. The skin organoid itself consisted of three or four different types of dermal cells and four types of epidermal cells. This diverse combination more closely mimics mouse skin than previously developed skin models.
By observing the development of this more lifelike skin organoid the researchers learned the two layers of skin cells must grow together in a specific way in order for hair follicles to develop. As the epidermis grew in the culture medium it began to take the rounded shape of a cyst. The dermal cells then wrapped themselves around these cysts. When this process was disrupted hair follicles never appeared.
Professor Koehler said: ‘One thing we explored in the paper is if we destroy the organoids and try to put them back together they don’t always generate hair follicles.
‘So we think it’s very important the cells develop together at an early stage to properly form skin and hair follicles.’
Apart from the treatment for baldness— “It could be potentially a superior model for testing drugs, or looking at things like the development of skin cancers, within an environment that’s more representative of the in vivo microenvironment,” Koehler said.