Escaping Hair Follicle Stem Cells

Dr. Rui Yi and his team from Northwestern University’s YiLab just published a groundbreaking new paper explaining the reason for aging related hair loss. The current findings were shown in various mammals.

Escaped hair stem cells.
Escaped stem cells in aging hair follicles. Source: Nature Aging (2021). Zhang, C., Wang, D., Wang, J. et al.

The Great Stem Cell Escape

The findings in this paper suggest that hair loss is not caused by stem cell death, depletion and exhaustion as has long been postulated. Rather, the stem cells escape from the structures that house them (i.e., the hair follicle bulge). The New York Times has an in-depth summary of these very interesting findings. Also see another take from Futurism.

In order to flee, the cells change their shapes from round to amoeba-like structures. Then they squeeze out of tiny holes in the follicle. Finally, they recover their normal shapes and dart away!

Of note, the researchers (led by Dr. Yi and his PhD student Chi Zhang) discovered two genes (Foxc1 and Nfatc1) that were less active in older aging hair follicle cells. The role of these two genes is to to “imprison” stem cells in the bulge. Note that Foxc1 stands for Forkhead Box C1. Nfatc1 stands for Nuclear Factor of Activated T Cells 1.

This study found a “hitherto unknown activity” of epithelial cells escaping from their niche during the aging process. This escape subsequently leads to stem cell degradation.

“If I did not see it for myself I would not have believed it. It’s almost crazy in my mind.” — Dr. Yi.

Foxc1 and Hair Loss

Note that I have covered Foxc1 in two past posts. The first (“COL17A1 damage and hair turning into skin“) covered a 2016 study whose co-author was also Dr. Rui Yi. Key quote:

“In self-renewing stem cells (SCs), Foxc1 activates Nfatc1 and bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling.”

The second post covered a 2016 article from Dr. Elaine Fuchs. In it, she found that Foxc1 plays a critical role in hair follicle and hair color (melanocyte cell) stem cell regenerative capabilities.

Stem cells residing in hair follicles are held in an inactive state for long periods of time. The new findings showed that these quiescent periods are essential for maintaining the stem cells’ rejuvenating potential.

On a somewhat related note, Dr. Yi and his team also published a new paper in September 2021 in relation to miRNA and hair loss. I have added it in that related post.

44 thoughts on “Escaping Hair Follicle Stem Cells”

  1. Admin, i have strong reason to believe that “androgenic” alopecia is related to this. It may speed up this process by or people with patterned hair loss might have mutations in these genes. Lets see what comes out from this.

    Can you make any update on hopemedicine? HMI is the ultimate hairloss cure.

    1. Agreed. This website is really all that’s needed to learn about the latest, and that’s always valuable and appreciated. Thanks Admin.

  2. Admin how come my comment was blocked for stating the Truth some people are saying that stemsons therapeutic will come out in 2027 but I’m 98% sure this is not the case when there own co CEO said human trials are 10 year’s away. People need to understand just get on finasteride and get a hair transplant don’t get your hopes up these people that haven’t even or are close to human trials. Mjones were you at I know you share the same sentiment.

    1. Please don’t spread fake news. The CEO or any other person from Stemson NEVER said anything like that.

      And just fyi: Epibiotech, HanBio and Tsuji are pretty likely to start their trials in 2022. According to their own statements.

      1. The co CEO said it himself in a interview on YouTube that came out about a month ago . c’mon Ben you’re smarter than this Ben let’s make a bet I bet you that nobody is going to do human trials in 2022 I’ll even go as far as to say han bio will go bankrupt and the sane for epibiotech and Dr. Tsuji.

          1. Thanks for the link!

            Marc repeats the same thing every week so no need to always respond to him :-) He will be here till 2040 and purchase the blog from me at some point prior.

          2. OK Mr. Ben the bet is on I’ll be seeing you next year probably at the middle of the year or towards the end. WILL see who is right. And you didn’t see the interview that I’m talking about.

          3. But epibiotech isn’t cloning hair there going the route of replicel doing injections. And for us that have been following this blog for years already know that stem cell injections are no good that’s why histogen folded.

        1. Marc, I used to believe you were one of the blog followers with the most realistic perspectives. But now I believe your beliefs are wrong. Stemson will begin human trials within 2 years and that I can say with complete confidence. I’m happy they are not rushing into clinical stages without solidified technology. Otherwise I would expect another failure like the previous cloning attempts. It’s also good stemson is partnered with allergen who will inject money at any given point because they now have a vested financial and reputation interest.

          1. Woofy97 so your going to wait until 2029 to see if stemsons therapeutic comes out with hair cloning your going to be in your 30s and there not even sure if it’ll be successful. 2 years for human trials and the trials will last about 2 years also. I’m telling there not going to be successful just look at Dr tsuji where’s he at? This is all scam.

            1. Marc this technology has been proven to work using human cells I reckon within the next 3 years we will have a sure sight of whether this has mass application implications. Marc I know your jaded from all the times treatments have failed but you have to understand this is like nothing we have ever seen.

              1. Woofy97, I appreciate the insight but I’m not waiting 10 plus years to wait and see if this is a viable solution . I’m pretty sure I’m Right in saying that stemsons therapeutic is probably going to come out with this if it’s even possible by 2035 . by the time you’re my age, you are going to realize all the time you’ve wasted. If this was possible in the near future elon musk would have been all over it ,and not have gotten an fut ! I mean I have a prime example in Dr tsuji he’s not even relevant any more and just a year ago he promised the world. But I digress.

      2. Will cloning still help those who have thin hair on sides? Not total loss, but still thinned out from MPB ?

        1. I often wonder the same thing about cloning. Will diffuse thinners be kicked to the curb or is it more complex than that?

        2. Alexander,

          You can go from complete baldness to a full head of hair. Stemson is not using cells from the scalp. They are using IPSC which have mostly infinite potency . They then add a cocktail of chemical ligands to guide the differentiation process so that the cells form the cellular constituents required to form hair follicles. They then implant those into 3D spheroids that mimics the microenvirnment of your endogenous follicles and implant them so they grow correctly!

          This is opinion based , but I believe that they have pretty much conquered most of this. However they are optimizing the differentiation process. They are getting cell lineages they don’t want and obviously you want to minimize that when you take this to the market because the cell culturing process costs a lot of money. So you want very high turnover.

          1. I also wanna add that IPSC technology is very new . The Nobel prize for its findings was announced in 2006 I believe. So it is a very new tool in biotech and we have to commend stemson for the research they are doing because even if they fail, they have contributed greatly to the knowledge base.

      3. When did Tsuji infer that he is likely to start clinical trials “in 2022”? As far as I am aware, his last statement was about the need to raise millions of dollars before taking commencing any trials.

        1. I should have omitted Tsuji, you are right.

          But they are the only ones that already have permission for human trials. If funding is secured, a very quick initiation is guaranteed.

          I still don’t believe that they have any funding issues. That would be embarrassing for Japan with a big history of engineering, science and those multi-billion tech-giants.

    2. I think you are right! Sometimes we forget that, we are talking about little organs which produce our hair. Its gonna take years until they can offer this procedure to the public. Both Stemson and Riken. No matter if they say they can already produce it in their labs since its also possible to produce small hearts in the lab which are even beating!! But that does not mean that they are anywhere close to clinical trails or even an release.

      For stemson therapeutics I d say, that their next major statement will come around 2024. They ll tell us they prepair for clinical trails. Next update 2028. They ll tell us they are looking for partners. 2030 they ll tell us that they stopped the research.

      For Riken I d say their next update ll also come around 2024 abd they tell us that they have finally found their partner for the trails. 2026 they ll tell us they start in around 2 years with their trails.
      nothing gonna happen

      I think it ll take around 40 to 50 years from now until something like cloned organs ll be available. And even this might be xenotransplantation and no cloning.

      1. Fifty years? I disagree.

        I don’t believe cloning hair is like cloning a heart. It’s not even close. I’m not saying cloning hair is easy (obviously it’s not) but it’s not even close to cloning and delivering a working cloned heart to a patient.

        I say it’ll be available in ten years. Within ten years.

        1. I hope you are right. I really do… But i cant be that optimistic. I found the history of hairtransplant on wiki. 1897 they tried the first on humans. 1930 the first in Japan 1950 the first in the US. And 2000 they invented the lateral slit technique. It took then 103 years to the modern hairtransplant technique of today. Even longer on the modern fue i guess.

          What makes you think hair cloning ll be faster even if its more complex. Remember we are not even at human trails now. We are not even in the year 1897

          1. Oh I’m skeptical by nature. I don’t believe 99% of the potential “cures” coming out. To me, it’s cloning or nothing. I don’t believe they’ll be able to come up with cream or a pill that will regrow my hair. I’d love to be wrong but I just don’t see it. Ever. The scams keep coming because we keep falling for them. Over and over and over.

            I don’t have any insider knowledge, but it feels like we’re getting close (or closer) to hair cloning. And yes, feelings mean nothing. But how many suffer from hair loss compared to how many need an organ transplant? Where is there more money to be made? Where are private companies investing their money? I think a hair loss cure would make a ton more money than a kidney cloning, for example. And there’s much more risk in putting a cloned organ in someone. When it comes down to it, that’s all this is about. Money. Where and how they can make the most money. We’re talking about a hair follicle. Yes, it’s complicated…and it won’t happen in the next few years, but it’ll happen. When? Nobody knows. But my best guess is a decade (give or take). So no real evidence to back that up other than tech and science seems to be making quite a few jumps lately and I think that trend will continue.

            Then again, we could both be wrong and it could take 100 years :/

  3. Does that mean once the stem cells have flown the coup, that’s gonna be tricky to put any back, or does the body produce more? If they’re like other stem cells, they’ll divide. Otherwise, this will ceate preventative measures to start with, rather than cures.

    1. My name is Maurice Boire.

      I been following j hewitt for a big time. I can say now he is still active and they are looking for a cell processing company.



      1. 2 1/2 years and still looking for a cell processing company? That‘s ridiculous. Let me guess: due to Corona!

        We are indeed doomed!

        1. Ben thanks for realizing the truth. Dr tsuji is done stemsons therapeutic is 15 year’s out if even possible. My friend is chemist and he told me this is not going to happen within this decade. The Dr from city plastic spoke to the head dermatologist of Bernstein Medical and she said this is 10 plus years out if even possible because mice trials and pig trials are different from human trials. And that interview is on YouTube.

        1. I have been in close email contact with Paul from Hewitt. I know they are going to break the scene soon.


          Mr. Boire

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