Hair organoids

Hair follicles bud from a round mass of skin tissue created in a lab dish. Credit: Jiyoon Lee and Karl R. Koehler

Stem cells

A hair-raising result from stem cells

Mouse hair sprouts from complex skin ‘organoids’.

Stem cells from mice can be transformed in the lab into skin tissue that grows hair.

All previous attempts to create skin from stem cells have resulted in hairless tissues. Karl Koehler at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis and his colleagues grew mouse stem cells on a 3D scaffold, and treated the cells with signalling molecules that coaxed them to differentiate into skin cells.

The resulting skin ‘organoids’ developed at about the same rate as a mouse embryo’s skin normally would, and spontaneously formed different skin layers and hair follicles. The resulting skin more closely resembled real skin than do earlier lab-grown tissues.

The researchers say that skin organoids could be useful for testing drugs and understanding skin diseases.