Over the last few decades, different therapies which effect wound repair have been proposed. The connection between wound healing and hair growth was already proposed by Dr. Catsarelis at the University of Pennsylvania through the WNT pathway (some molecular process that controls would healing and hair growth). Now, we review the emerging fields of gene and stem cell therapy in hair restoration and wound healing.
Gene therapy, initially developed for treatment of congenital defects, is a new option for enhancing wound repair. In order to accelerate wound closure, genes encoded for growth factors or cytokines showed the greatest potential.
The majority of gene delivery systems are based on viral transfection (intentionally contaminating the host cells with a particular virus that insert the desired gene to the target cells), naked DNA application, high pressure injection, or liposomal vectors, etc. Embryonic and adult stem cells have a prolonged self-renewal capacity with the ability to differentiate into various tissue types. A variety of sources, such as bone marrow, peripheral blood, umbilical cord blood, adipose tissue, skin and hair follicles, have been utilized to isolate stem cells to accelerate the healing response of acute and chronic wounds.
Recently, the combination of gene and stem cell therapy has emerged as a promising approach for treatment of chronic and acute wounds. This is good news for prospective hair loss patients: the idea that similar gene therapy techniques can be used to affect the baldness gene by switching the hair loss gene off and on.
This new study was done by Branski et al. at the Department of Surgery, The University of Texas Medical Branch and Shriners Hospitals for Children.