(HealthDay News) — Scientists might be able to offer “hair-challenged” males a new glimmer of hope when it comes to reversing baldness, according to a study published online January 28 in Nature Communications.

Xiaowei Xu, MD, from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues say they’ve gotten closer to being able to use stem cells to treat thinning hair – at least in mice. In the new study, Xu’s team converted induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) – reprogrammed adult stem cells with many of the characteristics of embryonic stem cells – into epithelial stem cells.

The epithelial stem cells were mixed with certain other cells and implanted into mice. They produced the outermost layers of skin cells and follicles that are similar to human hair follicles. This suggests that these cells might eventually help regenerate hair in people, the researchers said.

“This is the first time anyone has made scalable amounts of epithelial stem cells that are capable of generating the epithelial component of hair follicles,” Xu said in a university news release.

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