Melbourne: In a breakthrough, scientists have successfully grown human hair follicles in the laboratory using circumcised foreskins from newborns.
The study, conducted by researchers from Columbia University in New York and Durham University in UK, involved culturing altered human cells within tissue from the circumcised foreskins of newborns and grafting the resulting structures on to the backs of mice.
Previous studies have found that adult rodent dermal papillae, which control hair follicle growth, can be grown in the laboratory, transplanted into recipient skin and made to trigger new hair follicles and fibres.
Now, researchers have achieved a similar feat using laboratory-grown human hair follicle dermal cells to trigger the growth of human hair, 'Sydney Morning Herald' reported.
Researchers used 3D culture conditions rather than 2D cultures to restore the hair-inducing properties of human dermal papilla cells when inserted into human foreskin.
The authors said neonatal foreskin was selected because it is non-hair bearing tissue, which would challenge the human dermal papillae that control hair follicle growth "not just to contribute to hair follicles within the skin, but rather, to fully reprogramme the recipient epidermis to a follicular fate".
After six weeks of implantation, new hair follicles from five of seven donors were seen in the implanted skin.
The authors reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that the 3D culture conditions (3D dermal spheroids) helped partially restore the cells' normal gene expression signatures and hair-inducing properties.