We are at the forefront of a potential victory in the never-ending war between humans and their genes. Baldness may soon be a thing of the past, and we couldn't have done it without the help of some baby boys. The experiment, headed up Columbia University's Angela Christiano, "generated new human hair in five of the seven animals on which it was tested" reports the AFP. Christiano's study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, known as PNAS (which sounds like, you know).
Humans have studied baldness again and again, and have tried desperately to figure out
which side of the family to blame the genetic explanation of how it gets passed down. And humans have tried desperately to figure out how to make it stop or camouflage the hair loss. That's resulted in things like the Hair Club for Men, Bosley, and that weird spray called GLH which gave me nightmares:
Christiano has been studying hair loss for a while, and the breakthrough she made was in the technique and studying the molecular structures in 3D, rather than 2D cultures in a lab dish. Basically, people have been studying these cells the wrong way. "Our method, in contrast, has the potential to actually grow new follicles using a patient's own cells," Christiano said.
And baby foreskin was the New York City of skin tissues, if they could grow hair on baby foreskin, they could grow it anywhere. The New York Times reports:
Not just any human skin: to put their ideas to a rigorous test, the researchers made the grafts from a type of skin that is normally 100 percent hairless — foreskins from circumcised infants. A technique that can grow hair on a foreskin has a pretty good chance of growing it on a person’s head, they reasoned.
No infants were circumcised specifically for this experiment. The AFP notes that the foreskins were discarded and obtained through the Columbia University Medical Center. Christiano and her team hope that this research might not only help people with thinning hair and male pattern baldness, but also burn victims.
Photo by: In Green, via Shutterstock; Inset photo of Christiano by: AP