There have been many attempts to grow human hair on mice and using skin and follicular transplantation techniques, but all have met with mixed results.
The development of artificial skin has in turn been hampered by the lack of oil secreting and sweat glands as well as natural hair follicles, which meant the lab-created skin could not perform the normal functions of human skin.
Now a potentially humaner and more effective mouse-led treatment is in the offing using mice stem cells. This has reportedly led to the successful growth of skin that can replicate the function of normal skin at last. A further benefit was that these tissues, when implanted, made normal connections with the surrounding nerve and muscle tissues and reduced the risk of skin death.
This is exciting news, not just for hair loss sufferers, but the victims of severe burns and other misfortunes who require skin grafts which can replicate all the functions of the lost skin. It could also enable lab-grown skin to be used in place of animal testing for chemicals and other products and pave the way for the eventual regeneration of entire tissues and organs in future, which would be the ideal biological fit for the human recipient.
Dr Takashi Tsuji of the Riken Centre for Developmental Biology, led the study.