Researchers at Columbia University are using scaffolds and stem cells to grow hair follicles in the lab for the first time. Currently, people suffering from hair loss have to resort to transplanting fully grown hair follicles from another area of the body in order to restore hair growth. Though this process has been refined over time, it still requires a painful extraction process and poses certain risks. The new method utilizes a 3D printed scaffold structure that mimics the micro environment of hair follicles, improving hair growth and maximizing the efficiency of the transplants. Additionally, researchers are using a new combination of growth factors that effectively stimulate hair growth by suppressing factors that keep hair follicles dormant and therefore lead to baldness.
A major obstacle to successful bone marrow transplants (BMT) is rejection due to the age discrepancy of the donor and recipient, with older donors presenting problems due to the donor stem cells’ loss of efficacy with age. The older stem cells’ compromised ability to actively regenerate (given that older stem cells are less active than younger stem cells) increases the risk of age-related rejection significantly. In a groundbreaking study, researchers have discovered that the in-vitro (outside the body) introduction of young mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to aged donor hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) used for transplants resulted in the rejuvenation of the donor cells likely improving the efficacy of the transplant.
Scientists from the Institut Pasteur have developed a novel therapeutic approach to sepsis that utilizes mesenchymal stem cell transplantation to restore muscle capacity. Sepsis is a systemic inflammatory response to severe infection, impairing metabolic function across all organ systems--affecting some 28 million people and claiming 8 million victims worldwide each year. Septic shock can lead to permanent neurological and musculatory damage. Mesenchymal stem cells can be easily cultured in the laboratory and are known for their immunomodulatory properties, which makes them an excellent option for cell therapy transplants that aim to repair degenerative or traumatic lesions.