If you want hair restoration, better go to the source.

No matter how far medical science has come, the issue of hair growth seems to remain an uncontrollable force. Nature giveth and taketh away by its own accord and no amount of wasabi or special edition instant noodles is going to reliably change that.

But now a team from the Japanese scientific research institute Riken may have found a new way to regrow hair, by learning how to grow a whole new hair follicle from scratch.

When the body grows hair, stem cells are fed into the hair follicle from the surrounding skin which stick together and harden into a strand of hair. However, by a number of different causes this system can shut down permanently and baldness occurs.

Restarting these disabled hair follicles has been the eternal challenge for companies wanting to make a mint on effective baldness cures. Another more intense but effective way is to move active hair follicles from one part of the body to another.

▼ Our own Seiji Nakazawa underwent such a procedure and was pleased with the results

What the Riken team did, however, was learn how the body creates hair follicles in the first place by studying their development in lab mice. Using an imaging technique that allowed them to watch the individual cells replicate they could watch a hair follicle’s creation as it happens.

In this case, the cells arrange on the surface of the skin in a circular four-ringed bull’s eye configuration and the stem cell’s location in these rings determines its function. Each ring then independently grows into the skin, kind of like a telescope, and forms the hair follicle.

▼ A news report showing the imaging techniques used

Of these rings, one in particular plays a major role in the production of hair. Therefore, theoretically if stem cell treatment were to take place on that specific ring of cells, it may reactivate existing but dormant hair follicles.

Unfortunately, that is still just theoretical, but it seems very likely that this knowledge can be used to advance regenerative hair growth treatments in the future somehow. How far in the future that will be is the question on the minds of many netizens.

“I volunteer for research!”
“Let’s get this on the market ASAP!”
“Even if it does work, it doesn’t sound cheap.”
“Good news for baldies! A light of hope!”
“This is very interesting, but by the time it can be put to practical use, it will probably be too late for me.”
“Logically, if everyone were to just remove all their hair, then we’d all be equal. Permanent hair removal technology exists too.”
“Hurry up! I don’t have much time left…”

Indeed, this knowledge has the potential to help a lot of people who are worried about the particular configuration of hairs on their heads. And even if it doesn’t, it’s pretty cool just to know that hair follicles are formed by little telescoping rings of cells that drill into our skin.

It would also be kind of bittersweet if this does revolutionize hair growth treatment, because then we won’t be able to subject our staff to the many less-advanced methods out there.

Source: NHK, Nature, My Game News Flash
Top image: Pakutaso
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