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July 1, 2020

Stem Cells for Hair and Skin

Stem cells form the basis of all the living cells and tissues of the human body. These are the cells that are programmed to differentiate and develop into different types of cells, depending on the type of stem cell. Some stem cells can only differentiate and form a limited number of cells, while other stem cells can form any required cell. 

Hemopoietic stem cells are an excellent example of the type that only forms a limited number of other cells. These cells occur in the bone marrow, which is the cavity of the long bones. The stem cells found here can differentiate into all the different types of white blood cells and the red blood cells of the body.

Embryonic stem cells are so-called because they can, by comparison, differentiate into any other cell type. While these cells used to be only found in embryos, this is no longer the case because scientists can produce them from other cells.

Stem cells for the skin

The skin is the largest organ of the body, and thus, it can be a big problem if your skin is damaged by a traumatic event like a burn accident. The barrier formed by the skin protects us from illness, and losing water from the body; it also contains several receptors to sense our environment. 

One of the first signs of aging is also changes in the appearance of the skin. Having a way to rejuvenate skin cells would thus be a considerable benefit in medicine and cosmetics. Research is ongoing on the potential use of stem precursor skin cells for the treatment of many skin problems, including conditions such as systemic lupus erythematosus, skin cancer, or vitiligo. The research may even lead to ways to grow skin artificially to treat patients with burn injuries and need skin grafts. Skin cells are also likely to be included in future cosmetic treatments involving the dermis.

Stem cells for the hair

Stem cells also offer promise for people with hair loss issues. A hair stem cell transplant would work because stem cells would be used to grow hair follicles in the laboratory first. It would allow more of a person’s hair to be made available for grafting into parts of the scalp where the hair is missing. It would be a good solution for men whose balding is so extreme that they do not have enough hair available in the donor site for grafting to be successful.

Much scientific work is ongoing in the area of stem cells and hair transplantation surgery. Stem cells could even be combined with PRP therapy to help stimulate the growth of new hair follicles. Currently, plasma-rich platelet therapy is used either alone to trigger hair growth, or in conjunction with an FUE hair transplant procedure. Since blood plasma contains many growth factors, it helps stimulate cellular growth. Combining the two methods would help to further increase the growth of hair after transplantation.

Sudhir Choudhrie
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