Possible Cure for Human Baldness Bodes Well for Animals, Too!
Results of stem cell research could curb animal testing
Reports that scientists in Germany have grown the first hair follicle ever using stem cells is not just positive news for people with hair loss; there could be auspicious implications for animals in laboratory experiments as well.
Fabricated using stem cells, the hair follicle conceived by bioengineers at Berlin’s Technical University is thinner than a typical scalp follicle, but it will make possible future hair implants, as well as put a stop to millions of animal tests in coming years, notes an article in the German newspaper Die Welt.
Devised by bioengineer and doctor, Roland Lauster and his staff, the hair follicle can be manipulated to uncover the issues behind hair loss, and clinical studies may find it to be more practical for implants than hair transplants.
“Preparations for this are already in motion,” Lauster told Die Welt.
Further applications of these findings include future research into the way hair grows, is composed, and is pigmented, as well as the consequences of poisonous chemicals on hair follicles.
It’s not just people with hair loss who have reason to rejoice; it’s likely quite happy news for the animals, too. Millions of animals – more now than ever before – are still the objects of cosmetic testing.
“Since 1950, the development of new chemicals has gone up 500-fold, and so has the number of animal tests for the licensing of these,” Lauster said. If skin and hair follicles are manufactured in a laboratory, the need for experimenting on animals could be eliminated.
This could represent the tip of an iceberg, because scientist-created hair follicles may lead to creation of other synthetic organs, reducing the number of animals needed for testing even further.
The professor plans to invent a hair follicle test system, and then move on to design a tiny liver, kidney and bone marrow to comprise a multi-organ biochip on which to analyze pharmaceutical and cosmetic compounds.
Although the construction of human body-scale organs has not yet been successful, Lauster explains, small-scale organs have been.
He predicts that hundreds of these biochips could be employed to “quickly and safely” determine the ramifications of numerous toxic substances. And no animals would be harmed.