BUFFALO, N.Y. -- For a rich source of stem cells to be engineered into new blood vessels or skin tissue, clinicians may one day look no further than the hair on their patients heads, according to new research published earlier this month by University at Buffalo engineers.
Engineering blood vessels for bypass surgery, promoting the formation of new blood vessels or regenerating new skin tissue using stem cells obtained from the most accessible source -- hair follicles -- is a real possibility, said Stelios T. Andreadis, Ph.D., co-author of the paper in Cardiovascular Research and associate professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering in the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
Researchers from other institutions previously had shown that hair follicles contain stem cells.
In the current paper, the UB researchers demonstrate that stem cells isolated from sheep hair follicles contain the smooth muscle cells that grow new vasculature. The group recently produced data showing that stem cells from human hair follicles also differentiate into contractile smooth muscle cells.
We have demonstrated that engineered blood vessels prepared with smooth muscle progenitor cells from hair follicles are capable of dilating and constricting, critical properties that make them ideal for engineering cardiovascular tissue regeneration, said Andreadis.
In addition to growing new skin for burn victims, cells from hair follicles could potentially be used to engineer vascular grafts and possibly regenerate cardiac tissues for patients with heart problems.
Since smooth muscle cells comprise the muscle of numerous tissues and organs, including the bladder, abdominal cavity and gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts, this new, accessible source of cells may make possible future treatments that allow for the regeneration of these damaged organs as well.
Andreadis and his colleagues previously engin
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