A new study has found researchers re-growing hair in mice with a ‘simple’ technique through the use of human stem cells.
This generated fresh follicles capable of sprouting new hair and within days the lab rodents had furry backs and scalps.
Preliminary experiments suggest the groundbreaking therapy will also work in people.
The Japanese team's breakthrough came after they managed to mass produce 'hair follicle germs' (HFGs) in the lab for the first time.
And according to researchers, the secret was to use the 'McDonald's fries' chemical dimethylpolysiloxane in the vessel in which they were cultured.
This is added for safety reasons to prevent cooking oil from foaming. It was particularly effective for the HFGs because oxygen easily passes through.
Lead author of the study, Professor Junji Fukuda, of Yokohama National University, said that the key for the mass production of HFGs was a choice of substrate materials for the culture vessel.
He added, “We used oxygen-permeable dimethylpolysiloxane (PDMS) at the bottom of culture vessel, and it worked very well.”
The method described in Biomaterials created up to 5,000 HFGs simultaneously - which led to new hair growth after they were transplanted into mice.
While hair regenerative medicine has emerged as a new therapy to combat the problem. It involves regenerating hair follicles - the tiny organs that grow and sustain hair.
However, one of the more challenging obstacles has been the preparation of HFGs, their reproductive source, on a large scale. But with the new method, the researchers may have overcome this with a method that leads to a much more effective therapy.
Prof Fukuda and colleagues reported black hairs on both the back and the scalp where they were transplanted.
Prof Fukuda said that the finding facilitated the large-scale preparation of approximately 5,000 ssHFGs in a microwell-array chip made of oxygen-permeable silicone.