Sunny Wong, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Dermatology, University of Michigan Medical School
Our hair is produced by specialized tube-like structures called hair follicles, which contain many different kinds of cells. These cells function together to keep hair growing and healthy. Unfortunately, cancer treatments like chemotherapy, which target rapidly dividing cells, can also damage other highly proliferative tissues like hair follicles, causing loss of hair (alopecia). Interestingly, the processes of normal and aberrant hair growth can now be studied dynamically by culturing skin cells (keratinocytes) in three dimensional cultures. The image shows clusters of mouse keratinocytes growing in such a culture; the cells are dividing and are beginning to form spheres (green). Some of these spheres appear to exhibit the beginnings of an inner cavity, filled with red specialized cells, suggesting that they are in the early stages of developing early tube-like hair follicle structures.