Bioluminescence imaging lights up stem cell therapy for hair growth

June 11, 2012

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.

Explore further: New research provides clues on why hair turns gray

Related Stories

New research provides clues on why hair turns gray

June 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 ...

Japan study raises hopes of cure for baldness

April 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

New breast cell types discovered by multidisciplinary research team

November 20, 2017
A joint effort by breast cancer researchers and bioinformaticians has provided new insights into the molecular changes that drive breast development.

Brain cell advance brings hope for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

November 20, 2017
Scientists have developed a new system to study Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in the laboratory, paving the way for research to find treatments for the fatal brain disorder.

Hibernating ground squirrels provide clues to new stroke treatments

November 17, 2017
In the fight against brain damage caused by stroke, researchers have turned to an unlikely source of inspiration: hibernating ground squirrels.

Molecular guardian defends cells, organs against excess cholesterol

November 16, 2017
A team of researchers at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health has illuminated a critical player in cholesterol metabolism that acts as a molecular guardian in cells to help maintain cholesterol levels within a safe, ...

Prototype ear plug sensor could improve monitoring of vital signs

November 16, 2017
Scientists have developed a sensor that fits in the ear, with the aim of monitoring the heart, brain and lungs functions for health and fitness.

Ancient enzyme could boost power of liquid biopsies to detect and profile cancers

November 16, 2017
Scientists are developing a set of medical tests called liquid biopsies that can rapidly detect the presence of cancers, infectious diseases and other conditions from only a small blood sample. Researchers at The University ...

0 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.