Category Archives: Fibroblasts

Skin Regeneration, Wound Healing and Hair Growth

Two recent papers published important new findings in regards to wound healing and skin regeneration.

Wound healing via skin regeneration is often accompanied by hair follicle regeneration. Or even by brand new hair follicle neogenesis (e.g., Follica). Note that this hair growth after wounding phenomenon was even researched in the 1950s and 1960s.

On a related note, thousands of hair loss sufferers around the world are trying out at-home microneedling and dermarolling. Many of them have seen significant success, although one has to be careful with this type of scalp self-injury. On our hair loss chat, the most interesting recent discussion is around wounding depth levels.

Human embryonic and neonatal skin has the potential to regenerate after wounding. This includes fully functioning hair follicles. However, adult skin no longer has such regenerative capabilities. Researchers have been trying for years to find ways to coax salamander-like regenerative powers in humans. If not for whole limbs, at least for hair growing skin to cover baldness for our sake.

New Studies on Skin Regeneration and Wound Healing

1) In September 2020, a team that included Dr. Jeff Biernaskie published a study on the regenerative potential of dermal fibroblasts during wound healing. They identified a specific population of progenitor cells that reside within the dermis and which aid in wound healing.

Skin Regeneration Regulators
Skin Regeneration Regulators. Source: Bernaskie Lab GitHub.

The research is shared on GitHub. Also see Biernaskie Lab. According to the findings, Runx1, retinoic acid, and Hic1 control mesenchymal regenerative capabilities.

According to this summary, Dr. Biernaskie (whose work I have covered in the past) said that they have shown the following:

“You can alter the wound environment with drugs, or modify the genetics of these progenitor cells directly. Both are sufficient to change their behavior during wound healing. And that can have really quite impressive effects on healing that includes regeneration of new hair follicles, glands and fat within the wounded skin.” 

“It suggests that the adult wound-responsive cells do in fact harbor a latent regenerative capacity, it just simply needs to be unmasked.”

2) Also in September 2020, a new study from the University of Washington identified Wnt transcription factor Lymphoid enhancer-binding factor 1 (LEF1) as the key factor in adult skin regeneration.

LEF1 gene expression in fibroblasts has the potential in adult skin to repair itself like the skin of a newborn baby. This skin  can also grow new hair follicles.

Interview with lead author Dr. Ryan Driskell.

“We identified a genetic factor that allows adult skin to repair itself like the skin of a newborn baby.”

Hair, Skin and Wounding Interconnected Research

While researching for this post, I could not believe the number of diverse past posts that I have written on this blog that have focused on skin regeneration, wound healing and hair formation.

Regenerating hair follicle after wounding.
Wound induced single hair follicle neogenesis in a bald old man.

Renowned hair loss researchers such as Dr. George Cotsarelis, Dr. Luis Garza, Dr. Elaine Fuchs and Dr. Mayumi Ito have all also conducted frequent research on skin regeneration. I have discussed their work in past posts if you search for their names.

My gut feeling is that whenever there is a fully effective cure for hair loss, there is a strong likelihood that there will also be a cure for quality skin regeneration.

Skinregeneration.org

The authors of the second study that I linked to earlier have started a new site called skinregeneration.org. The site’s mission is to provide a platform for scientists to easily query large datasets that focus on skin wounding and scarring repair.

For further information, see the Driskell Laboratory site at Washington State University.

Skin Gun and Spray-On Skin

It seems like the technology to repair skin has improved significantly during the past decade. There is an especially unmet need when it comes to treating skin that has been burnt badly.

One of the technologies that I used to very curious about is the skin gun that was widely hyped in 2011. I have not heard much about this in recent years. RenovaCare acquired the technology in 2013. The company’s skin gun and spray-on stem cells for wound healing are trademarked under the names SkinGun™ and CellMist™.

The University of Calgary and Jeff Biernaskie

Update: April 2020 — Dr. Jeff Biernaskie and his team (led by graduate student Wisoo Shin) just made an important new discovery. They found that hair loss is caused by progressive dysfunction of message-sending fibroblasts due to aging dermal stem cells. Fully functioning dermal stem cells are required to maintain fibroblast populations. Actual paper is published in Developmental Cell.

Apparently, hair loss research to date has mostly focused on keratinocytes, the cells that make up the bulk of the hair follicle. However, a loss of dermal stem cells prevents production of new fibroblasts. Fibroblasts in the hair follicle are crucial, since they send messages to the keratinocytes. These messages tell the keratinocytes when to divide, which in turn orchestrates the repeating cycles of hair follicle growth and shedding.

These latest findings will also impact research into skin regeneration and wound healing.

Jeff Biernaskie, Fibroblasts and Dermal Hair Stem Cells
Dr. Biernaskie and his team. New findings that aging dermal stem cells and fibroblasts lead to hair loss.

Update: February 2015 — An interesting and fairly technical article on dermal cups and dermal stem cells. Includes a great summary of the recent work by Dr. Jeff Biernaskie as well as a brief mention on Replicel’s approach.


December 2014

Jeff Biernaskie and Dermal Stem Cells

Earlier this month, a team led by Dr. Jeff Biernaskie (from the University of Calgary in Canada) got their hair related research findings published in the journal Developmental Cell.  This research identifies the existence of hair follicle dermal (in the skin) stem cells in adults. These can potentially be targeted to stimulate new hair growth in areas where there has been hair loss.

More detailed information can be read via the Calgary Herald.

Although this was interesting research that was widely covered in the media, I was not too impressed. Besides the fact that this was yet again research only done in mice, it seems like Dr. Biernaskie himself is a professor in the veterinary department! Moreover, most of the articles that I read on this development suggested that these findings could only lead to a potential cure in 10 years at best.

With the seemingly exponential growth in science and technology in recent years, 10-year time frames are usually a bit underwhelming. Nevertheless, after writing my prior post on hair loss research at the University of Bradford, now seemed like a good time to praise a Canadian university. It should be noted that other researchers from Kyoto University in Japan; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the US; and Université de Strasbourg in France; were also involved in this research.

More interesting, two days ago Replicel published an article covering this study. They think that these findings validate Replicel’s RHC-01 product, which utilizes dermal sheath cup cells.