Scientists at the University of Buffalo have suggested that stem cells derived from hair follicles have the potential to be formed into new blood vessels.
The study, led by Stelios T. Andreadis, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering in the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, points out that stem cells from hair follicles can be used to engineer new blood vessels and regenerate new skin tissue.
"Engineering blood vessels for bypass surgery, promoting the formation of new blood vessels or regenerating new skin tissue using stem cells obtained from the most accessible source -- hair follicles -- is a real possibility," said Andreadis, associate professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering in the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
Previous studies have shown that hair follicles contain stem cells.
During the study, UB researchers showed that stem cells isolated from sheep hair follicles contain the smooth muscle cells that grow new vasculature.
The group recently produced data showing that stem cells from human hair follicles also differentiate into contractile smooth muscle cells.
"We have demonstrated that engineered blood vessels prepared with smooth muscle progenitor cells from hair follicles are capable of dilating and constricting, critical properties that make them ideal for engineering cardiovascular tissue regeneration," said Andreadis.
Moreover, this new, accessible source of cells may make possible future treatments that allow for the regeneration of these damaged organs.