Hair loss treatment: another giant step forward

New hair loss research findings

This week a major breakthrough was announced by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and published in one of the world's top research journals, Nature Communications.   


How do you make a hair follicle anyways?

As a bit of  background, it's important to understand how to make a hair follicle. You need to mix several specific cells together and then let nature do the rest. To make a cheese sandwich, you need cheese and bread. The more cheese and bread you have, the more sandwiches you can make. To make a strawberry sundae you need strawberries and ice cream. The more strawberries and ice cream you have, the more sundaes you can make.   To make a hair follicle, you need 2 things - epithelial stem cells (ingredient number 1) and dermal papillae (ingredient number 2).  And if you find a way to generate massive amounts of each, you'll find yourself with massive amounts of hair follicles - and a potential ability to treat hair loss.


Key Research Findings

The researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have shown, for the first time,  a method to generate large numbers epithelial stem cells - ingredient number 1 in the two part mixture to make a hair follicle.  When the epithelial stems cells were mixed with other cells they formed skin cells and hair follicles. The next goal now is to figure out a way to make massive amounts of dermal papillae (ingredient number 2)



These are exciting studies for everyone to pay attention to - be they individuals with hair loss, hair loss specialists or hair transplant surgeons.  These studies provide a potential recipe or approach to generate massive large numbers of human epithelial stem cells for new treatments for hair loss. It's important to be aware that this study was done in mice and it's not clear if this an be easily replicated or translated to humans, but it's a (very, very, very) big leap.  Stay tuned.



Yang et al. Generation of folliculogenic human epithelial stem cells from induced pluripotent stem cells. Nat Commun. 2014 Jan 28;5:3071. doi: 10.1038/ncomms4071.



Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Whistler office at 604.283.1887

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