Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Hair and Now

Hair follicle stem cells help heal blisters

12 July 2021

Hair and Now

A heel rubbing in a shoe often leaves a painful blister – wherever layers of skin pull apart, these little fluid pockets protect the damage while it heals. But skin also has to grow while it repairs – so how does it find a balance? Here the upper layer of a mouse’s skin (the epidermis, highlighted in green) separates from the underlying layers (purple) leaving a raised blister. As scientists watch the healing, a surprising ally swoops in – stem cells usually involved in growing hair follicles divert their efforts to the blister. The price for this multitasking is a delay in hair follicles forming in the growing tissue. With this seemingly minor side-effect, scientists are exploring the idea of repurposing hair follicle stem cells to help in treating patients with blistering disorders like epidermolysis bullosa.

Written by John Ankers

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