Cloned hair could be the answer to baldness

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

British researchers say that they are getting closer to the launch
of a treatment for baldness that entails the cloning of hairs from
the back of the head.

UK-based company Intercytex says that Phase 2 trials of a treatment that involves injecting the cloned hair follicles into areas of baldness, known as 'follicular cell implantation', have shown positive results.

The treatment involves extracting those hairs responsible for hair growth, dermal papilla, from the area at the back of the neck, an area where male pattern baldness rarely strikes.

Injecting dermal papilla

These cells are then multiplied in cultures before the dermal papilla are injected in their millions back into the scalp areas where hair growth has been limited.

The new hair growth cells are said to then either stimulate existing hair follicles or lead to the formation of new ones.

The researchers say that more than 1,000 injections may be needed to treat patients suffering from full blown male pattern baldness, but this will still prove to be quicker and less invasive than many of the more radical procedures currently offered.

Research conducted with UK grant The research team has conducted its work on the back of a grant from the UK government, and says that the latest results could be a major leap forward for hair restoration techniques.

The results of the latest trails were unveiled at a conference for hair replacement surgeons, held in Rome, Italy, last week.

At the conference the researchers said that the treatment could be used for a variety of causes of hair loss, including burns and cancer treatment, as well as for purely cosmetic reasons caused by age-related hair loss.

The researchers revealed that the latest trials showed that at least two thirds of patients who received the hair cloning treatment over a six month showed clear signs of hair re-growth.

Success rate increases with scalp treatment

However, it was also stressed that the success rate increases to four out of five individuals showing clear signs of hair re-growth when the scalp is stimulated before the treatment using gentle abrasions that encourage hair growth.

Until now hair restoration has included topical treatments, such as the caffeine-based treatment Alpecin and Regaine, together with countless supplements and pharmaceutical-based treatments as well as more radical procedures such as hair transplants.

Currently the global market for hair loss treatments is estimated to be worth $1 billion (€650m), and is one that involves most of the major hair care providers to various extents.

An estimated 40 per cent of men have noticeable hair loss by the time they reach 35, a figure that rises to 65 per cent by the age of 60.

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