Stem cells can regenerate diseased bone marrow and treat hematological conditions, but currently they can only be collected by painful bone marrow extraction and complicated cell sorting techniques. In October 15 Journal of Cell Science, Majlinda Lako and colleagues at the University of Durham, UK, show that hair follicle dermal cells can repopulate the mouse haematopoietic system (Journal of Cell Science, 115:3967–3974, October 15, 2002).

Lako et al. performed in vitro haematopoietic colony assays and observed that dermal — but not epidermal — rodent hair follicle cells could actively produced cells of erythroid and myeloid lineage. When they transplanted cultured dermal papilla or dermal sheath cells from transgenically marked donor mice into lethally irradiated recipient mice they observed multi-lineage haematopoietic reconstitution. About 70% of clonogenic precursors were derived from donor hair follicle cells.

"The ability to readily access dermal cell populations by skin biopsy, rather than...

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