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Multipotent Adult Stem Cells from Human Hair Follicles


Xiaowei Xu, Hong Yu, and Dong Fang

Tech ID

Scientists at The Wistar Institute and the University of Pennsylvania have developed a novel strategy for isolating, growing, and differentiating broadly multipotent adult stem cells from human hair follicles. Adult stem cells, like embryonic stem cells, can differentiate into multiple types of function-dedicated daughter cells, such as nerve or muscle cells. However, most adult stem cells are restricted to producing cell types from only one tissue type (lineage). Researchers at Wistar, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Pennsylvania isolated a unique adult stem cell from human hair follicles, which is capable of producing daughter cells of multiple tissue lineages. The human hair follicle stem cell is a rare, but permanent, inhabitant of the skin follicular microenvironment, and exhibits features that are characteristic of highly-adaptable embryonic stem cells. This technology allows hair follicle stem cells to be collected, maintained in renewable culture, and stimulated to produce daughter cells of multiple classes, including functional skin cells, muscle cells, and nerve cells.

Key Words
adult stem cell, degenerative disease, stem cell therapy, tissue regeneration
Applications and Advantages

Hair follicle stem cells are unique among known adult stem cells, sharing many of the characteristics of embryonic stem cells. These cells are broadly multipotent, capable of producing cells from a diverse number of tissues. Since the cells reside in human skin, they can be collected with minimal invasiveness. Hair follicle stem cells have enormous potential for therapeutic use for a wide range of diseases including spinal cord and brain injury, cardiac disease, degenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimers, diabetes, and immune disease.

Intellectual Property Status

U.S. Patent Application No. 11/911,400 (US-2009-0130065, published 05/21/2009).

Licensing Opportunity

Wistar is seeking corporate partners to license these cells for therapeutic applications. Sponsored research for further development of the technology will also be considered.

Relevant Publication(s)

Yu et al.; 2006. “Isolation of a novel population of multipotent adult stem cells from human hair follicles”. Am J Pathol 168: 1879-1888.