Dr. Angela M. Christiano, the Richard and Mildred Rhodebeck Professor of Dermatology and professor of genetics and development at Columbia University Medical Center, and Dr. Colin Jahoda, professor of stem cell sciences at Durham University in England and director of North East England Stem Cell Institute, announced the first hair transplant method that induces hair growth from a person’s own hair follicles in the Oct. 21, 2013, issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The key to the discovery was initiated almost 40 years ago by the discovery that rats hair cells grow in three-dimensional clumps. This condition makes the transfer of the dermal papilla cells that regulate hair growth and may contain hair generating stem cells more successful in rats.
The researchers constructed a mechanism that forces human dermal papilla cells to grow in three-dimensional arrays instead of the normal two-dimensional structure.
Transfer of the 3-D arrangement to human skin and then onto the backs of rats produced a 60 percent successful hair follicle growth rate that lasted as long as six weeks in the test rats.
The three-dimensional cultures restored 22 percent of the gene expression seen in normal hair follicles that was restricted in the two-dimensional structure that is used in present hair replacement techniques..
The researchers intend this development to lead to a method for growing hair in women who have lost their hair. Hair transplants in women have restricted value because most women that have hair loss have insufficient donor hair to fully compensate for their hair loss with present hair replacement methods.