Category Archives: Angela Christiano

3D Culturing of Hair and Dermal Papilla Cells

When it comes to hair cloning and tissue engineering, 3D culturing related research is booming. The 3D culturing of cells can occur via scaffold techniques or via scaffold free techniques such as 3D spheroids.

Update: July 28, 2020

Recent Studies on 3D Culturing of Hair Cells

Over the past few months, a number of studies have come out in relation to 3D culturing of hair cells (in particular, dermal papilla cells). Below, I list them from most recent to oldest.

July 27, 2020 — A new study from North Carolina State University compared 3D versus 2D cultured dermal papilla cells. The 3D dermal papilla cells in a scaffold performed best in regrowing hair. More interestingly, the scientists also studied microRNAs (miRNAs) in dermal exosomes from both the 2D and 3D DP cells. The team then identified one (miR-218-5p) in particular as a key promoter of hair growth. Per lead study investigator Dr. Ke Cheng, the best part is that MiRNAs can be developed into small molecule-based drugs, including creams. A much easier feat in comparison to cell growth, expansion and injection.

June 16, 2020 — Several people in the comments mentioned a new paper titled: “Generation of human hair follicle organoids in vitro and ex vivo by co-culture of primary human hair matrix keratinocytes and dermal papilla fibroblasts”. One of the co-authors of this paper is Dr. Ralf Paus. This experiment succeeded in human scalp skin and not just in mice (h/t reader “Joe”).

April 28, 2020 — Culturing human hair follicle dermal papilla cells in a 3D self-assembling peptide scaffold. The results of this study suggest a new potential 3D culture platform based on a self-assembling peptide scaffold called RAD16-I. This method successfully created hair follicle dermal papilla cells.

3D Culturing Hair Follicles
3D Culturing of Hair Follicles and Dermal Papilla Cells. Source: Wiley Online Library.

April 15, 2020 — A new paper on reconstructed human skin with working hair follicles. Co-authors include the renowned Dr. Roland Lauster and Dr. Gerd Lindner.

The results section has an interesting part titled “Comparison of cultured neopapillae spheroids with scalp hair dermal papillae”. Several of the images of the 3D cultured hair follicles are shown on the right. Neopapillae spheroids were constructed from expanded self‐aggregating dermal papilla cells.

December 26, 2019Tissue engineering strategies for human hair follicle regeneration. This review analyzes the various research approaches being developed to tackle hair follicle bioengineering. Lots of discussion about 3D culturing, various types of scaffolding and dermal papilla trichogenicity. For the scientifically inclined readers, Table 1 is quite useful and I am pasting a small part of it here:

Hair Follicle Tissue Engineering Approaches

December 13, 2018 — An important paper with Dr. Angela Christiano, Dr. Colin Jahoda and Dr. Etienne Wang as co-authors. They created 3D-printed hair follicle molds using a biomimetic approach. I covered this work in detail in my 2018 post on biomimetic tissue engineering of hair follicles.


October 22, 2013

3D Spheroid Culturing of Dermal Papilla Cells

This week seems to be full of interesting developments, but the below news made all the global headlines.

Dr. Angela Christiano (Columbia University — US) and Dr. Colin Jahoda (Durham University — UK) just released their latest findings on hair follicle culturing. Their main discovery involves using a “hanging-drop” method of 3D spheroid culturing of dermal papilla cells. As opposed to a regular 2D petri dish culturing method that had failed in the past.

This new 3D method has shown significant success. However, it is still a years away from being able to be used in humans with consistent and safe results.

Media Coverage

For more, see this video with the hair follicle blessed Dr. Christiano. Edit: Per the Fox News video in the link at the bottom, it seems like she wears a wig and suffers from Alopecia Areata.

An audio interview from BBC with Dr. Colin Jahoda

And now some other links to their findings:

Article from BBC

Article from New Scientist

Article from NYtimes

Article with Video from Fox News

Aclaris Therapeutics and Mechanism of Action

March 2019

In March of 2019, Dr. Angela Christiano’s Columbia University based lab’s Twitter account posted the following:

Etienne Wang's Thesis

In recent years, the Christiano-led Columbia team have published a number of important papers related to JAK inhibitors, JAK-STAT signaling and hair growth. Since I have covered their work many times on this blog, I did not pay much attention to this latest paper. I was also not too keen to yet again research dry subjects such as TREM2+ dermal macrophages, oncostatin and JAK-STAT5 activation.

I am also a bit wary of covering JAK inhibitors too often. Largely due to the slow pace of progress in JAK inhibitor trials for androgenetic alopecia, led by US-based Aclaris Therapeutics. Moreover, technical posts on scientific research papers are not well received by most readers except for the most scientifically minded ones.

May 2019

Aclaris JAK Inhibitor Mechanism of Action

In May of 2019, I outreached to Aclaris Therapeutics to ask them about the progress in their JAK inhibitor trials for male pattern hair loss. In the past, they never replied. However, this time, one of their vice presidents got back to me immediately with the following response:

“Stay tuned. Data in May/June. New MOA postulated In attached paper.”

MOA means “Mechanism of Action”.

Lo and behold, the Aclaris VP had attached the previously discussed Ettiene Wang et. al’s full thesis paper titled:

“A Subset of TREM2+ Dermal Macrophages Secretes Oncostatin M to Maintain Hair Follicle Stem Cell Quiescence and Inhibit Hair Growth.”

June 2019

Last week, Aclaris Therapeutics’s CEO Dr. Neal Walker presented at the annual Jefferies 2019 Healthcare Conference in New York. I used to cover these presentations regularly. The full presentation can be found here.

On page 28, they discuss a new mechanism of action in understanding how JAK inhibitors could help patients with androgenetic alopecia (AGA). In brief, the administration of a JAK inhibitor will turn STAT5 to the OFF position. This in turn promotes hair follicle stem cell activation, and subsequent hair growth.

For some reason, the Aclaris PowerPoint slide’s reference is to Dalessandri, T and Kasper, M., who in turn refer to the Wang paper I discussed earlier.

“TREMendous Macrophages Inhibit Hair Growth”.

Aclaris Topical ATI-50002 JAK Inhibitor Trials

According to the Aclaris vice president who emailed me in May:

The 6-month results from the Phase 2 open-label 31-patient ATI-50002 clinical trial will be finalized during the second quarter of 2019. 12-month data are expected in the fourth quarter of 2019. If the results from this trial are positive, Aclaris expects to initiate an additional Phase 2 trial in the first half of 2020. Note that they sometimes refer to ATI-50002 as ATI-502.

The above information was essentially confirmed in the latest June Aclaris Investor Presentation audio. Best case scenario is that Phase 3 trials will start in 2020.