Given the total wear and tear it is exposed to on an everyday basis, the skin has an exceptional ability to rebuild itself. The small reservoirs are spread throughout it and nested within compassionate microenvironments known as niches, which keep strict control on this rejuvenating process. Too much of tissue could cause lead to issues such as cancer, while too little may speed up aging. So far, researchers were not sure whether the stem cells themselves can initiate other stem cells to produce new skin by reforming their niche. But according to new research, conducted by Professor Elaine Fuchs, stem cells can indeed control the regeneration of tissue. The research identified a molecular coordination tool utilized by stem cells to signal across niches.
Scientists also found out a new constituent of the niche: a specific kind of vessel known as lymphatic capillaries—which carry immune cells and remove excess toxins and fluids from tissues. These capillaries create a personal network near the stem cell niche within every hair follicle, the study demonstrated, thereby interlinking all its niches. Postdoctoral Fellow Shiri Gur-Cohen said, “By making the skin totally transparent, we revealed the complex construction of this network of tubes.”
On a related note, recently, a study showed that engineering lymphatic vessels might be used as a treatment to treat the cardiac conditions. Reportedly, the cardiovascular system is a multifaceted network of arteries, veins, and capillaries. In that network, lymphatic vessels are vital to the heart’s ability to cure in the event of a stroke or heart attack. With backing from the AHA (American Heart Association), Donny Hanjaya-Putra—Assistant Professor from the University of Notre Dame—will use stem cells and biomaterials to rebuild lymphatic vessels and analyze their potential for therapeutic applications.