Bioluminescence imaging lights up stem cell therapy for hair growth

Finding a way to restore hair growth after substantial hair loss is something of an obsession worldwide. Investigators at the Society of Nuclear Medicine's 2012 Annual Meeting presented how stem cell research for the development of new hair follicles can be monitored with an optical imaging technique that uses bioluminescence, the same process that allows fireflies to light up.

There is a host of treatments available for hair loss, including creams and drugs, but these have not shown to be very effective for . Hair signal the actual regeneration of hair follicles and natural hair. A technique called bioluminescence is used to display processes at the . Bioluminescent signal is generated in specific called substrates. These signals are easily recognized with very sensitive optical imaging systems that can see what is happening in the smallest places—in this case in hair stem cells.

"Hair regeneration using hair stem cells is a promising therapeutic option emerging for hair loss, and molecular imaging can speed up the development of this therapy," saysByeong-Cheol Ahn, M.D., Ph.D., professor and director of the department of nuclear medicine at Kyungpook National University School of Medicine and Hospital in Daegu, South Korea. "This study is the first study of hair follicle regeneration using an in vivo molecular imaging technique."

The current research involves grafting hair stem cells in animal models to investigate if they can grow and proliferate as normal cells do. The progress of hair stem cell therapy is non-invasivelytracked with bioluminescentreporter genes in specialized substrates. There are several bioluminescent reporter genes originating fromnot only , but also beetles, glowworms and other bioluminescent organisms. The strategy of using bioluminescent reporter genesis ideal for , because bioluminescence works only in living cells.

In this study, researchers used bioluminescence imaging usingfirefly luciferase coupled with D-luciferin to monitor the engraftment of hair follicle stem cells—called newborn fibroblasts—in mice to track their viability and development into hair folliclesover time. Bioluminescence imaging was performed five times over the course of 21 days after transplantation of the stem cells.

Results of the study showed successful bioluminescence imaging forhair regeneration with hair stem cell transplantation, and new hair follicles were apparent on the surface of skin samples under microscope. More studies will have to be conducted before clinical trials could be initiated to verify whether this therapy would work for human hair regeneration.

Related Stories

New research provides clues on why hair turns gray

date Jun 14, 2011

A new study by researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center has shown that, for the first time, Wnt signaling, already known to control many biological processes, between hair follicles and melanocyte stem cells can dictate ...

Rat hair cells found to be true stem cells

date Oct 04, 2005

Cells inside hair follicles are stem cells able to develop into the cell types needed for hair growth and follicle replacement, Swiss researchers claim.

Japan study raises hopes of cure for baldness

date Apr 18, 2012

Japanese researchers have successfully grown hair on hairless mice by implanting follicles created from stem cells, they announced Wednesday, sparking new hopes of a cure for baldness.

Recommended for you

Breathless: How blood-oxygen levels regulate air intake

date 5 hours ago

Researchers have unraveled the elusive process by which small, highly vascular clusters of sensory cells in the carotid arteries "taste the blood," as a 1926 essay put it—the initial step in regulating ...

Sex matters ... even for liver cells

date 7 hours ago

Female liver cells, and in particular those in menopaused women, are more susceptible to adverse effects of drugs than their male counterparts, according to new research carried out by the JRC. It is well ...

Caring for blindness: A new protein in sight?

date 8 hours ago

Vasoproliferative ocular diseases are responsible for sight loss in millions of people in the industrialised countries. Many patients do not currently respond to the treatment offered, which targets a specific ...

When genes are expressed in reverse

date 8 hours ago

Genes usually always be expressed as in Western writing: from left to right on the white canvas of our DNA. So when we speak of the activity of our genome, in fact we are referring to the expression of genes ...

Technique could speed biologic drugs

date 13 hours ago

Antibodies are specific molecules that can lock onto a particular cellular structure to start, stop or otherwise temper a biological process. Because they are so specific, antibodies are at the forefront ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.