Category Archives: Dermal Papilla Cells

Dermal Papilla and Sheath Cup Cells

A slower month than normal, but still some interesting developments in hair loss news.

Dermal Papilla Cells and Dermal Sheath Cup Cells

— I have covered dermal papilla cells and dermal sheath cup cells a number of times on this blog. A new study from Japan finds that damaged hair follicles (such as those in androgenic alopecia) have restoration potential that is enhanced by transplantation of cultured dermal papilla cells (DPCs) and dermal sheath cells (DSCs). A mixture of DPCs and DSCs was more effective than isolated transplantation of each cell type. The experiment was done in rats.

— I doubt this statistic, but hair trasnplants in Scotland quadrupled in 2014 compared to 2013 levels. Wonder what William Wallace would think of modern Scots and modern men in general? The growth rate for hair transplant demand in Milton Keynes in England was a more believable but still impressive 40 percent in 2014.

— A great article on how we will end organ donation shortages.

— To end on a funny note, Dr. Conrad Murray of Michael Jackson fame plans to open a health and wellness type clinic in Trinidad. One of the things that he will treat at this clinic is hair loss, which he attributes to nutritional deficiencies per that latter article.

It would not surprise me at all if all these hair cloning and hair multiplication type procedures that are currently largely being tested on rats will end up being tested on human guinea pigs. In countries such as Trinidad & Tobago, well before human testing is approved in the US or Japan.

Pluripotent Stem Cells Used to Grow Human Hair in Mice

Scientists led by Dr. Alexey Terskikh  at the California-based Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute published a groundbreaking study yesterday that was widely covered by the media.  Some interesting takes here, here and here. The first of those three links has some interesting feedback from Histogen’s CEO Dr. Gail Naughton.

In summary, these scientists used pluripotent stem cells from humans to create dermal papilla type cells that were then injected into hairless mice.  Lo and behold, the mice started to grow human hair!  I do not see any strong reason preventing the same from working from human->human (as long as its the same human). However, Dr. Terskikh stated that he is still looking for partners “to implement this final step”, and clinical trials will then tack on a few more years to this procedure finally coming to market.

One thing that I like about the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute is that it is a non-profit organization.  I wonder what conditions a for-profit partner would set for providing research funding? We always seem to have issues when private sector companies purchase rights to new technology in the hair loss world, since each new clinical trial phase progression is then dependent on one particular company’s internal decision making and funding availability. If they do not feel that a product will make them at least $xyz, they often even cancel further research despite successful outcomes from initial trials.

In any case, going back to this study, the  artificial dermal papillae cells were grown from pluripotent stem cells.  Such cells can be derived from human embryos (controversial) or a patient’s own skin cells (not controversial).  According to Dr. Terskikh, per one of the articles I linked above:

Patients can donate their own iPS cells, which can be grown into the replacement dermal papillae in “unlimited” quantities.”

Note: iPS (or IPSC) stands for induced pluripotent stem cells, which are generated from adult cells (as opposed to embryonic pluripotent stem cells, which are derived from early stage embryos).

Besides the above advantage, another key benefit of this stem cell derived process is that it overcomes the ongoing problems researchers have had in trying to multiply existing human dermal papilla cells outside the body and then re-injecting them into the scalp.  The dermal papilla cells largely seem to  lose their hair-inducing properties when kept outside the body.  In fact in this very study the authors tried three experiments:

  1. Transplanting human dermal papillae cells taken from adult scalps to the mice.  Result = insignificant number of hairs generated.
  2. Transplanting just human skin cells to the mice. Result = insignificant number of hairs generated.
  3. Transplanting dermal papilla cells grown/derived from human embryonic stem cells to the mice.   Result = significant new hair generation!

Besides Dr. Terskikh, the principal author of the paper is Dr. Ksenia Gnedeva.  While the former has done work in many different areas (largely related to stem cells), the latter has focused a lot more on hair related research.  It seems like both of these researchers have published some of their research in Russian.  This year, I hope to try and write more about hair loss research that is being conducted in countries such as Russia and China, but is not being published in the English language.  Perhaps I might have to hire some local students from those countries to help me?

Update: Ironically enough, someone fluent in Russian was thinking along the same lines as me and actually managed to interview one of the article’s authors based in Russia.  See more on Bald Truth Talk forum member “Bald Russian”‘s phone interview with Ekaterina Vorotelya.  Wish US-based researchers were as forthcoming!