Magdalena is a PhD student in the lab funded by a joint MRC DTP and Imperial College PhD Scholarship. In her project, she aims to test the potential of human hair follicles in dermal remodelling and wound healing. Clinicians have long reported that hair-bearing areas heal more rapidly than parts of the body lacking hair follicles. Following a recent clinical study demonstrating the potential of hair follicle transplantation to promote chronic wound healing, several mechanisms for the observed effect have been proposed [1][2]. One of the ideas for the role of hair in wound healing focused on follicular dermal populations, dermal sheath cells in particular [3]. Besides participating in the hair growth, dermal sheath cells are proposed to have a function in the repair of dermis after injury. This may happen via paracrine signals that promote vascularization, re‑innervation and ECM remodelling, which are all involved in the wound closure. Magdalena will challenge the proposed mechanisms by combining in vitro cell-based assays followed by proteomic and genomic experiments with a clinical study on patients undergoing hair transplantation performed in collaboration with Dr. Francesco Jiménez Acosta, Mediteknia Clinic, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. In the future, the results of this study will be used to design novel therapeutic strategies for wound healing and scar remodelling.

References

1. Martínez M.L., et al. Hair follicle‑containing punch grafts accelerate chronic ulcer healing: A randomized controlled trial. J. Am. Acad. Dermatol. 2016. (5):1007-1014.

2. Jimenez F., et al. Reflections on how wound healing-promoting effects of the hair follicle can be translated into clinical practice. Exp Dermatol. 2015. 24(2):91-4.

3. Jahoda C.A.B & Reynolds A.J. Hair follicle dermal sheath cells: unsung participants in wound healing. Lancet. 2001. 358:1445–8.