The fact that hair grows quickly and is continually replenished makes it an attractive source to harvest the amount of stem cells needed for treatments. This has been a major stumbling block of stem cell research, as well as controversy surrounding the ethics of harvesting cells from embryos. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science study shows nerve cells can be grown from hair follicle stem cells. Read more here as reported by BBC. (Image: COURTESY OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES).
Inside a hair follicle is a small bulge that houses stem cells. As hair follicles cycle through growth and rest periods, these stem cells periodically differentiate into new follicle cells. Yasuyuki Amoh of AntiCancer, Inc. and his colleagues isolated stem cells from the whiskers of mice and tested their ability to become more sophisticated cell types. The researchers cultured the cells and after one week discovered that they had changed into neurons and two other cell types–known as astrocytes and oligodendrocytes–that are associated with neurons. According to the report, when left for longer periods lasting weeks or months, the stem cells could differentiate into a variety of cell types, including skin and muscle cells.
Read more here.