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The feasibility of targeted selective gene therapy of the hair follicle


Loss of hair and hair color is associated with ageing, and when it involves the scalp hair, it can be distressing to both sexes. Hair loss resulting from cancer chemotherapy is particularly distressing. However, safe, effective therapies directed to hair have only just started to be developed. The hair follicle is a complex skin appendage composed of epidermal and dermal tissue, with specialized keratinocytes, the hair matrix cells, forming the hair shaft. Specific therapy of the hair follicle depends on selective targeting of specific cells of the hair follicle. We have developed the histoculture of intact hair-growing skin on sponge-gel matrices. We have recently found in histocultured skin that liposomes can selectively target hair follicles to deliver both small and large molecules. That liposomes can target the hair follicle for delivery has been confirmed independently. Two decades ago we introduced the technique of entrapping DNA in liposomes for use in gene therapy. In this report we describe the selective targeting of the lacZ reporter gene to the hair follicles in mice after topical application of the gene entrapped in liposomes. These results demonstrate that highly selective, safe gene therapy for the hair process is feasible.



Li L, Hoffman RM



AntiCancer Inc., San Diego, California 92111, USA.



Nat Med, 1: 7, 1995 Jul, 705-6





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