Hairless mice of the world, rejoice. Scientists have found a way to grow new hair follicles on your bald bodies using stem cells.

The study could be good news not just for furless mice. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers who performed the study are also hoping the stem cells will grow hair, as well as skin and sebaceous glands, in humans.

The study, which was published in the Sept. 3 issue of Cell, showed that stem cells taken from the hair follicles of mice could self-renew in a dish, and when grafted onto mice could grow into new follicles and hair.

“We are now looking at whether we can isolate human cells with the same procedure,” said Dr. Cedric Blanpain, a postdoctoral fellow at Rockefeller University who is an author of the paper. “If that is the case, it’s promising for humans.”

Besides replacing hair, the discovery could lead to better skin grafts for burn victims, since grafts now can’t grow hair or sebaceous glands.

The next step is to try implanting human stem cells, taken from hair follicles, into the hairless mice. If the stem cells grow hair and skin like the mouse cells did, then the researchers will try implanting the cells into humans, Blanpain said.

In previous studies, researchers had tried dissecting parts of the hair follicle and implanting them. They were able to get the beginning of follicle growth, but no actual hair. Blanpain and his colleagues achieved thick tufts of fur.

More here.