American scientists have created natural hair that grows through the skin, in what is billed as a breakthrough to cure baldness.
Researchers from Sanford Burnham Prebys in California achieved growth using human-induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).
The results were presented at an annual meeting of the International Society for Voice Cell Research (ISSCR) on Thursday.
A newly formed company, Stemson Therapeutics, has licensed the technology.
Genetics, aging, childbirth, cancer treatment, burns and medical disorders such as alopecia can cause hair loss.
The conditions are often associated with emotional distress that can reduce the quality of life and lead to anxiety.
Alexey Terskikh is an associate professor at Sanford Burnham Prebys.
He says: "Our new protocol described today overcomes important technical challenges that kept our discovery from real use.
"Now we have a robust and highly controlled method for generating natural hair that grows through the skin with an unlimited source of human iPSC-derived dermal papilla cells.
"This is a critical breakthrough in the development of cell-based hair loss therapy and the regenerative medicine field."
Terskikh is studying a type of cell called dermal papilla.
These cells are inside the hair follicle and control the hair growth – including hair thickness, length and growth cycle.
In 2015, he grew successful hair under the skin of the skin by creating dermal papilla derived from human pluripotent stem cells.
The approach has a 3D biodegradable scaffold made of the same material as dissolution stitches.
Instead, it controls the direction of hair growth and helps stem cells integrate into the skin, a naturally hard barrier.
The current protocol is based on mouse epithelial cells in combination with human dermal papilla cells.
The experiments were performed in immunodeficient nude mice, which lack body hair.
The derivation of the epithelial portion of a hair follicle from human iPSCs is currently underway in the Terskikh lab.
Finasteride and minoxidil are current major treatments for male template content.
Minoxidil can also be used to treat female pattern baldness.
However, the HSE says that these treatments do not work for everyone and only work as long as they are used.