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Hair Today
03 February 2018

Hair Today

This strange structure is a developing mouse hair follicle, shown in close-up on the right, embedded in a patch of skin. But it’s not growing on the back of an animal – it’s been created in the lab inside a little ball of stem cells known as an organoid. Scientists can successfully grow organoids from all kinds of tissues, from brain to bowel, but generating the complex multi-layered components of skin and hair has proved tricky. Now researchers have found a way to make skin organoids sprout hairs for the first time. These hairy little balls will be a useful laboratory model for studying hair growth and loss, and could be used for testing drugs that are used on the skin. The next step is to see if the same technique can be used with human stem cells, which could lead to the development of more realistic lab-grown skin for grafts.

Written by Kat Arney

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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