Scientists regenerate hair on bald mouse (video)

Above, your moment of science zen for the weekend. Using an innovative application of stem cells, researchers at the Tokyo University of Science have regenerated hair on a bald mouse. Their accomplishment is described as a breakthrough, and inspires hopes of an alternative to hair transplants for bald guys who rely on toupees and comb-overs (or as they're known in Japan, "bar codes"). From a blog post at the Wall Street Journal, by Eleanor Warnock:

After cultivating two different kinds of cells taken from hair follicles in mice, the team transplanted the cells into the hair follicles of a bald mouse. Within three weeks, 74% of the hair follicles implanted with the cells grew back hair. The new hair connected with nerves and surrounding tissues showing that the follicles had become fully functional and were able to regrow hair even after hair was pulled out. The scientists were also able to play around with the density and color of the hair by changing the type of cells they transplanted into the mouse’s hair follicles. When they used cells from a human hair follicle, a human hair grew.

The results were published this week in the online journal Nature Communications. Jokes aside, the focus isn't so much male premature baldness, but helping people who have lost hair due to injury or disease. Not because premature baldness isn't a problem worth addressing, but because the technique at work here would be tough to apply for larger areas of hair growth. (thanks, @steppinlazer)


  1. Hmmm Hearing receptors
    The receptors for sound are the ‘cilia’ … tiny hairs that line the inner surface of the cochlea in the inner ear. Sound vibrations are directed into the cochlea by means of the eardrum and the bones of the middle ear, where the cilia move mechanically and excite the nerve endings to which they’re attached..

    So is there a cure for deafness in this research?

    1. I would guess the “transplanted the cells into the hair follicles” part would be incredibly difficult to do, not to mention to be able to do it without damaging the cochlea.

    2.  I’m afraid cilia are very tiny “hair-like” structures that are part of cells. Actual hair is a multicellular structure, a completely different structure. So no, sorry…

      1. But still, I do have to wonder if this type of stem cell research could at least benefit further study in regenerating other types of structures including cilia?

  2.  Seems like studying the unwanted growth of hair on other parts of the body could also be worthwhile. It’s clear that bodies don’t have a problem growing hair, it just happens in the wrong places.

  3. Finally, I’ll be able to fill in my beard! Hopefully with soft, soft mouse hair…
    (also, way to think outside the box with the cure for deafness! ;)

  4. I can see it now, natural hair stripes will be the new big fad. We’ll see teenagers with brunette, blonde, and red hair all growing from their scalp at once.

  5. Imagine a few years down the road when this technique (or a superior one) become commercially viable..

    ..who do you think would go for the anti-brazillian wax, a furry or someone with an obsession with Chewbacca ?

    .. side thought, total body hair, and go as Sasquatch for Halloween….

  6. Oh great, they figured out how to make hairy mice.  Once this mouse tells all the other mice how it was done, we will have a world overrun with lots of hairy mice.  First Harry Potter, now hairy mice when will it ever end?

  7. Saw this on the tube the other day !
    Too bad there is no baldness in my family… maybe I can try spelling out something on my back?….

  8. I don’t know about hair growth, but based on that mouse, it certainly looks as if the scientists may have isolated the ugly gene.

    If they can find a cure for that, it could bring hope to ugly people everywhere.

  9. They can grow patches of human hair on mice?  Do they immediately groom the patch of hair over their bald spot in a long barcode like streak the way humans do?

  10. I always thought male pattern baldness was the result of a toxin that is produced as a byproduct from the metabolism of testosterone.  It’s my understanding that this toxin attacks hair follicles, causing them to no longer produce hair.  Even if they’re successful in growing hair en masse on a man’s head, he’d still need to use preventative measures such as rogain, or propecia to keep said hair.

  11. Jokes aside, the focus isn’t so much male premature baldness, but helping people who have lost hair due to injury or disease.

    Ah — well then, fair enough.

    I’m losing my hair and would very much like not to be, but I’ve always thought it was a pretty frivolous area to put medical research dollars into.

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