Stem cells plucked from the follicles of mice can grow new hair when implanted into another animal. The work represents a dramatic step forward that is sure to stimulate new research into treatments for human baldness.

“This is what I’ve been shooting for over 14 years now,” says George Cotsarelis of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia. “I’m just in nirvana .”

Cotsarelis’ team relied on genetic tricks to mark the stem cells, which allowed the cells to be purified and also for the researchers to catalogue their patterns of gene activation.

Earlier in 2004, Elaine Fuchs’ group at the Rockefeller University in New York City independently reported a different strategy to label the cells and probe their genetic secrets.

“Here you have two very talented groups taking different approaches and coming to similar conclusions,” says Anthony Oro, a dermatology researcher at Stanford University in California. “That changes the field and gives us a lot of …
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