What if we could produce hair through the use of cloning? The treatments on the market today focus on maintaining what hair you have left or moving the small amount of permanent hair to regions where hair has been lost. Through the harnessing of tissue cloning we may soon be able to grow fresh new hair.
Cloning techniques involves the propagation of cells for therapeutic use. Human stem cells possess the unique ability to differentiate into various cell types. In injury or disease an organ may be damaged and unable to heal. By administering primed stem cells to the injured area the cells can settle in to the tissue and begin repairing or replacing the damaged tissue. This is much easier said than done!
Stem cells with the ability to differentiate into ANY cell type are extremely limited and are most abundantly found in developing embryos which makes generating them and obtaining them difficult. Stem cell contained within various tissues are already partially committed to a cell type and can function just as well in repairing the damaged their specific tissue type.
For hair, the specific stem cell is the dermal papilla cell that resides in the hair follicle. The dermal papilla cells of the healthy, long-lived, follicles do not appear to migrate from their healthy follicles to the miniaturizing follicles of the crown and hair line, and if they did migrate then the follicle left behind may become miniaturized and unable to robustly produce hair.
HairClone© is developing a technique where they harvest roughly 50 hair follicles from the permanent regions of the scalp through FUE harvest. FUE harvest results in very minimal scarring and 50 extractions are undetectable (Figure 1). Those follicles are then either stored for a later time when the patient is ready for a transplant or immediately cultured. The dermal papilla cells are cultured and propagated using advanced tissue culture techniques that maintain their potency as hair producing cells while also producing large numbers. It is this point where the balance between the ability to generate large numbers of potent cells that a breakthrough is required. Often, cells that replicate happily in tissue culture lose their characteristics as stem cells and become attenuated to grow in their new out of body environment. If the researchers at HairClone© are successful, they will be able to generate an almost limitless supply of hair growing stem cells.
Once the cells are propagated, they are injected into the balding scalp of the donor patient. Hypothetically, the cells will migrate to the miniaturized follicles in the balding region or begin the formation of novel hair follicles. The growth of the hair in the balding regions is then monitored to determine if further treatments are necessary.
Won’t the new hair fall out just like the other hair in the area? At this point it is not known if the new hair is “permanent”, >50 year, or >20 year. It is hypothesized that since the source of the stem cells is from the permanent hair of the back of the head, the newly formed follicles will be resistant to the factors that contribute to androgenetic alopecia.
We are excited to see if this technology will develop into a treatment that we could someday offer to our patients as an effective treatment for hair loss.No comments »