Outside of expensive transplants and drugs with questionable effectiveness, a proper treatment has continued to elude the great number of scientists working in the realm of hair loss. But sources of optimism are never far away, the latest coming out of Japan’s Yokohama National University where scientists have developed an improved technique they claim brings higher rates of follicle growth and could be scaled up to cover larger, vaster expanses more efficiently.
Like a number of other breakthroughs in this area, the new technique uses stem cells as a starting point, which are early-stage cells that can differentiate into any type of cell in the human body with the right guidance. The technology centers on what are known as hair follicle germs (HFGs), three-dimensional tissue cultures of which stem cells form an important component. These HFGs can be implanted to serve as small organs that grow and maintain hair, with previous studies showing success when used on the skin of mice.
Early last year, the same group of researchers made a significant breakthrough. Through experimenting with new materials for their culture vessel, the scientists came up with a way to mass produce HFGs, so much so that they were able to grow up to 5,000 at the same time, the largest scale to date and a marked improvement on the 50 or so scientists had been able to produce up until that point.