Some extremely unimpressive hairs sprouting from the back of a mouse represent one of the biggest advances against baldness in years, NPR finds. The experiment, which involved grafting human skin onto the animal, was the first time scientists have ever been able to get skin from our species to produce new hair follicles. If more research proves the technique to be effective, the method could lead to treatments for baldness that are much more effective than the drugs or hair transplants currently used.
Scientists were able to crack the problem of getting new follicles to form by trying a different method of cell-growing in the lab, and to give the technique a rigorous test, they tried it on a kind of skin that never usually grows hair—foreskins from circumcised babies, reports the New York Times. The lead researcher believes they can make the process animal-free and effective enough to begin clinical trials within five years, though experts not involved in the research suspect the follicly challenged could have a much longer wait ahead.