Tuesday November 13, 2018

Using stem cells may provide a cure for baldness

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Using stem cells may provide a cure for baldness
Using stem cells may provide a cure for baldness. wikimedia commons
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New York, Jan 3, 2018: In a finding that may provide potential cure for baldness, researchers have used stem cells from mice to develop a skin patch that is complete with hair follicles in a laboratory.

Baldness, a common disease for which a solution has been found.Baldness, a common disease for which a solution has been found.
Baldness, a common disease for which a solution has been found. wikimedia commons

Using the skin model, the scientists developed both the epidermis (upper) and dermis (lower) layers of skin, which grow together in a process that allows hair follicles to form the same way as they would in a mouse’s body.

The novel skin tissue more closely resembles natural hair than existing models and may prove useful for testing drugs, understanding hair growth, and reducing the practice of animal testing, the researchers said.

You can see the organoids with your naked eye, said Karl Koehler, Assistant Professor at the Indiana University.

It looks like a little ball of pocket lint that floats around in the culture medium. The skin develops as a spherical cyst, and then the hair follicles grow outward in all directions, like dandelion seeds.

In the study, published in Cell Reports, Koehler and team originally began using pluripotent stem cells from mice, which can develop into any type of cells in the body, to create organoids — miniature organs in vitro — that model the inner ear.

But they discovered that they were generating skin cells in addition to inner ear tissue. Thus, they decided to coax the cells into sprouting hair follicles.

Moreover, they found that mouse skin organoid technique could be used as a blueprint to generate human skin organoids.

It could be potentially a superior model for testing drugs, or looking at things like the development of skin cancers, within an environment that’s more representative of the in vivo microenvironment, Koehler noted. (IANS)

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Immunotherapy Becomes World’s First Therapy which Cured Breast Cancer

A "highly personalized" anti-cancer therapy

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Research technician Ashwini Balakrishnan works in the immunotherapy research lab of Dr. Stanley Riddell at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, March 28, 2017.
Research technician Ashwini Balakrishnan works in the immunotherapy research lab of Dr. Stanley Riddell at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, March 28, 2017. VOA

A woman with an aggressive form of breast cancer which defied chemotherapy and spread to other organs, was cured with an experimental treatment that triggered her immune system, researchers said Monday.

The woman has been cancer-free for two years, reported the U.S.-based team, presenting their results as “a new immunotherapy approach” for the treatment of patients with a late-stage form of the disease.

Other experts not involved in the work hailed it as “exciting”.

So-called “immunotherapy” has already been shown to work in some people with cancer of the lung, cervix, blood cells (leukaemia), skin (melanoma) and bladder.

But an immune breakthrough for bowel, breast and ovary cancer has remained elusive.

In the latest study, a team extracted immune cells called lymphocytes from the patient, tweaked them in the lab, then reinjected them.

Cancer patient
Cancer patient, flickr

The woman was 49 when she signed up for the clinical trial after several attempts at a cure through conventional treatments had failed, said the study published in the scientific journal Nature Medicine.

The cancer had spread to various parts of her body, including the liver.

A person’s immune system is designed to kill invaders, including rogue, cancerous cells. But it can fail, often because it cannot recognize cancer cells containing the patient’s own DNA.

Immunotherapy trains a patient’s own immune cells to recognize and fight cancer.

For the new study, researchers took lymphocytes from a tumor in the woman’s body and scanned them for specific types which reacted to mutant, cancerous cells.

Complete regression

These were reactivated or “switched on” in the lab and injected back, along with a so-called “immune checkpoint inhibitor” — another type of immunotherapy that has shown success in other types of cancer.

Cancer survivor
Cancer survivor, flickr

This resulted in a “highly personalized” anti-cancer therapy that yielded “complete tumor regression,” the researchers wrote.

In a comment also published by Nature Medicine, expert Laszlo Radvanyi from Canada’s Ontario Institute for Cancer Research said the woman’s response to the treatment was “unprecedented” for such advanced breast cancer.

This work showed “we are now at the cusp of a major revolution in finally realizing the elusive goal of being able to target the plethora of mutations in cancer through immunotherapy,” he wrote.

In a reaction via the Science Media Centre in London, immunotherapy professor Alan Melcher of The Institute of Cancer Research said the trial was “fascinating and exciting.”

The work “provides a major ‘proof-of-principle’ step forward, in showing how the power of the immune system can be harnessed to attack even the most difficult-to-treat cancers,” he said.

Peter Johnson, an oncology professor at the Cancer Research UK Centre, said the study confirmed the immune system can recognize some cancers, and “if this can be stimulated in the right way, even cancers that have spread to different parts of the body may be treatable.”

The technique is “highly specialized and complex”, he cautioned, and may not be suitable for many patients. (VOA)