Researchers discover skin cells that could grow hair - FOX 32 News Chicago

Researchers discover skin cells that could grow hair

Posted: Updated:
The cells under a microscope at Columbia Medical Center The cells under a microscope at Columbia Medical Center
(WJBK) -

Researchers at Columbia Medical Center have figured out how to get tiny cells to tell our skin to grow hair.

"For the first time we can think about using a patient's own cells, expanding them and using them to grow many new hairs," Angela Christiano, the lead researcher, says. Christiano is familiar with hair loss; she started losing her own hair in 1996 due to the medical condition Alopecia. Alopecia causes large patches of hair loss. Christiano currently wears a wig.

After 15 years, her life's work is finally yielding results.

At first the tiny cells weren't good at remembering what to do when they were harvested. But Christiano coaxed them into little droplets, or spheres, and now they grow new hair follicles in the laboratory.

This discovery could turn the $3.5 billion a year baldness industry around. Hair follicles could be grown in the lab for transportation, particularly for women who don't have enough donor hair. The cells could able added to skin grafts for burn victims, or even injected directly into the scalp to treat receding hairlines.

Christiano believes she only needs a little more research before she will begin human trials.

"We need to understand how the hairs are colored, how they're shaped. Are they textured right? And more importantly, do they cycle?" Christiano explains.

The discovery also opens up a new field for drug research. Because hair follicles couldn't previously be grown in the lab drug companies have had no way to test new pharmaceuticals to treat hair loss, but that could soon change now.

Next, comes human testing to see how well this works outside the lab.

  • Deena CentofantiMore>>

  • Frustrated by Health Insurance Exchanges? Experts say 'relax'

    Frustrated by Health Insurance Exchanges? Experts say 'relax'

    Thursday, October 3 2013 6:30 PM EDT2013-10-03 22:30:09 GMT
    The Affordable Care Act kicked in on Tuesday and not only has it been the subject of fierce political battles, but the online marketplace has been bogged down with technical problems.
    The Affordable Care Act kicked in on Tuesday and not only has it been the subject of fierce political battles, but the online marketplace has been bogged down with technical problems.
  • The dangers of diabetes, how you can rate your risk

    The dangers of diabetes, how you can rate your risk

    Tuesday, March 26 2013 5:24 PM EDT2013-03-26 21:24:38 GMT
    Hundreds of thousands of Michiganders have no idea their bodies are having a tough time controlling their blood sugar.
    Hundreds of thousands of Michiganders have no idea their bodies are having a tough time controlling their blood sugar.
  • Study: For heart health, food is medicine too

    Study: For heart health, food is medicine too

    Tuesday, December 4 2012 4:11 PM EST2012-12-04 21:11:01 GMT
    You have one heart attack and then take medication to prevent another one, but there's new research that says what you eat is a very powerful tool in preventing another heart attack.
    You have one heart attack and then take medication to prevent another one, but there's new research that says what you eat is a very powerful tool in preventing another heart attack.
Powered by WorldNow

205 N. Michigan Avenue
Ground Floor
Chicago, IL 60601
Station Operator: (312) 565-5532
Newsroom: (312)565-5533

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices