BEIJING, March. 29 (Xinhuanet) -- Scientists have announced that stem cells from hair follicles can develop into neurons, muscle and more, suggesting that hair is a potent and accessible source of cells for regenerating tissues.
Glowing proteins show stem cells have formed neurons.(Photo: AntiCancer, Inc.)
A ScienCentral News report explains that the research means these potentially precious cells may be everywhere there's hair.
Scientists at AntiCancer, Inc. of San Diego have coaxed adult stem cells in mice into turning into neurons, the nerve cells of the brain. Writing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the authors say, the results of their work suggests a new "source of undifferentiated multi-potent stem cells."
The next steps would be to better understand and isolate the hair follicle stem cells, and then move on to the tricky part of trying to actually grow these stem cells in the lab. "We put them in culture," says AntiCancer President Robert Hoffman, "and under conditions where brain stem cells would form neurons, the hair follicle stem cells also formed neurons. We also injected some of these stem cells into the skin of mice and they formed neurons there, too."
Stem cells are the body¡¯s master cells. So-called adult stem cells are found throughout the body. A more controversial source comes from days-old embryos.
The best known source of stem cells is the bone marrow, but researchers hope to find more easily accessible sites and want to experiment to see if different sources of stem cells may offer cells with different qualities.
The finding, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, offers another potential source of the master cells, which scientists hope may provide a good source of new tissue and organ transplants.