In a recent study, published in Cell Reports, researchers have used stem cells from mice to develop a skin patch that is complete with hair follicles in a laboratory. This latest finding may provide a potential cure for baldness.
The scientists used the skin model to develop both the epidermis (upper) and dermis (lower) layers of skin. These layers will grow together in a process that allows hair follicles to form the same way as they would in a mouse's body.
The researchers said that the novel skin tissue more closely resembles natural hair than existing models. It may prove useful for testing drugs, understanding hair growth, and reducing the practice of animal testing.
"You can see the organoids with your naked eye," Karl Koehler, Assistant Professor at the Indiana University said. "It looks like a little ball of pocket lint that floats around in the culture medium. The skin develops as a spherical cyst, and then the hair follicles grow outward in all directions, like dandelion seeds."
Initially, Koehler and team began using pluripotent stem cells from mice, which can develop into any type of cells in the body, to create organoids , miniature organs in vitro that model the inner ear. However, they discovered that they were generating skin cells in addition to inner ear tissue. Thus, they decided to coax the cells into sprouting hair follicles.
Moreover, they found that mouse skin organoid technique could be used as a blueprint to generate human skin organoids.
"It could be potentially a superior model for testing drugs, or looking at things like the development of skin cancers, within an environment that's more representative of the in vivo microenvironment," Koehler added.
(With inputs from IANS)