Hope for the bald: details
Japanese scientists have grown hair in a test tube
Baldness, although it sometimes signals some health threats, is not such a threat in itself. However, from the point of view of aesthetics, from the point of view of sexual presentation, it continues to excite people even in our era of breadth of views. Therefore, a lot of attention is traditionally focused on research, the results of which can be used in the fight against baldness. It seems that the study of Japanese scientists who managed to mix mesenchymal and epithelial cells in a test tube to grow real hair (practically from scratch) is just one of these.
The idea to conduct a study, the results of which were published on October 21 in Science Advances (Kageyama et al., Reprogramming of three-dimensional microenvironments for in vitro hair follicle induction), did not arise from scratch. The basis for this work was an earlier experiment, during which Japanese researchers also mixed mouse and human mesenchymal cells with mouse epidermis cells. However, then, as soon as three days later, elements with morphological signs of hair follicle embryos began to form in the aggregate of single cells more or less evenly distributed in space, they were extracted from the mixture and inserted intradermally into the backs of naked mice. And already in the skin of living rodents, full-fledged hair follicles were formed from these embryonic formations.
Micrograph of a hair follicle grown "in vitro": the hair shaft consisting of keratin glows red / © monasteriumlab.com
It was very good as a stage, but it is clear that no one stops at the mouse model if there is an opportunity to continue research. Japanese scientists also continued — trying to grow mature hair follicles and even the actual hair completely in vitro. I.e. to do without mice. At first, they simply left the mixture of cells to "ripen" longer — and on the sixth day of cultivation, they found that something similar to a hair shaft protrudes from some follicles. In 23 days, these fibers reached a length of 0.2 mm. Gradually. And only one follicle out of three hundred "sprouted". Few.
In search of more effective models, the researchers changed the ratio of cell types, the total number of cells in the culture, and also added various growth factors. The addition of the main fibroblast growth factor (FGF2) had an effect — the frequency of germination of hair follicles increased from one in three hundred to six out of three hundred. Good, but it wasn't very suitable for winning relationships yet. So they continued.
As a result, the addition of the so-called "Matrigel" had the best effect.
Matrigel is supplied in such ordinary pharmacy vials and should be stored at -20 °C.
Matrigel is the trade name of a solubilized basement membrane matrix secreted by mouse sarcoma cells of the EHS line. This drug is rich in extracellular matrix proteins, including laminin, collagen, proteoglycans, growth factors. Produced by Matrigel division Life Sciences of the American company Corning, widely known in the world, thanks to its other product, impact-resistant glass Gorilla Glass.
As a result of adding a droplet of "Matrigel" to the mixture of cells, the researchers managed to achieve almost one hundred percent efficiency, i.e. hair rods grew from almost all follicles. Then the sprouted follicles were placed in a one hundred percent matrigel — and after 23 days the length of the hair rods reached three millimeters.
Hair follicles formed as a result of self-organization of a mixture of embryonic epithelial and mesenchymal cells, in the presence of an extracellular matrix preparation, effectively generate hair rods in vitro. This method is potentially useful for regenerative medicine, the study of various pathologies and drug screening. The method is a good alternative to animal testing.
Researchers believe that in the future, such in vitro grown follicles and hair can be used in regenerative medicine (for the treatment of alopecia), as well as to study the effect of various drugs, pathogens and other agents on hair.
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