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Converting adult human cells to hair-follicle-generating stem cells
Date:1/28/2014

to epithelial stem cells in 18 days. Those cells were then purified using the proteins they expressed on their surfaces.

Comparison of the gene expression patterns of the human iPSC-derived epithelial stem cells with epithelial stem cells obtained from human hair follicles showed that the team had succeeded in producing the cells they set out to make in the first place. When they mixed those cells with mouse follicular inductive dermal cells and grafted them onto the skin of immunodeficient mice, they produced functional human epidermis (the outermost layers of skin cells) and follicles structurally similar to human hair follicles.

"This is the first time anyone has made scalable amounts of epithelial stem cells that are capable of generating the epithelial component of hair follicles," Xu says. And those cells have many potential applications, he adds, including wound healing, cosmetics, and hair regeneration.

That said, iPSC-derived epithelial stem cells are not yet ready for use in human subjects, Xu adds. First, a hair follicle contains epithelial cells -- a cell type that lines the body's vessels and cavities as well as a specific kind of adult stem cell called dermal papillae. Xu and his team mixed iPSC-derived EpSCs and mouse dermal cells to generate hair follicles to achieve the growth of the follicles.

"When a person loses hair, they lose both types of cells." Xu explains. "We have solved one major problem, the epithelial component of the hair follicle. We need to figure out a way to also make new dermal papillae cells, and no one has figured that part out yet."

What's more, the process Xu used to create iPSCs involves genetic modification of human cells with genes encoding oncogenic proteins and so needs more refinement. Still, he notes that stem-cell researchers are developing more workarounds, including strategies using only chemical agents.


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Contact: Karen Kreeger
karen.kreeger@uphs.upenn.edu
215-349-5658
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert  

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