Hair follicle cloning or
hair multiplication represents the future of hair transplantation.
The scientific theory behind hair cloning involves removing
hair follicle cells, multiplying them in the laboratory, and
then injecting them back into the patient's scalp.(1)
This process is not true "cloning"
but rather, tissue engineering or cell therapy. Hair cloning
is a misnomer that has stuck and is used to describe the
general process of hair multiplication.
Actual cloning is when an exact copy of a living cell
or organism is produced; not the same thing.
Once the hair follicle cells are harvested, they would
be allowed to multiple using cell culture.
In culture, cells divide, so one cell becomes two, two
become four and so on, resulting in large numbers of new
cells, said Jeffrey Cooley, MD. From an original sample
of around 10 hairs containing 100,000 hair follicle cells,
several million offspring cells could be injected, resulting
in several thousand new hairs.
Ken Washenik, MD, PhD. further illustrates the explanation
of hair multiplication.
"The idea is to take these cells from the bulb of
the hair, grow them in culture, and come back with an increased
number of hair seeds you could inject into the scalp,"
Washenik says. "You start with a small number of
hairs and come back with a larger number of hair seeds, and
inject them into one area, and just create brand-new hair
Moreover, researchers have discovered that some follicle cells
do more than regenerate. They give off chemical signals. Nearby
follicle cells which have shrunk during the aging process
respond to these signals by regenerating and once again
making healthy hair. It works in lab mice. And, Washenik says,
it works in human skin cultures, too.
Despite these advances and the soundness of the hair multiplication
theory, researchers are still a long way from making this a
procedure available to the masses. Some sources say 3 to 4 years,
while others think it will more likely take at least a decade.
No matter the time frame, HairLossTalk.com outlines the barriers
researchers will have to overcome in order to make hair multiplication
a viable reality.
For Hair Cloning to work, researchers need to be able to (1)
produce a consistent number of hair follicles for a given number
of injected dermal papilla cells (2) figure out how to control
the angle at which the new follicles grow and (3) produce a
consistent level of density over the treated area. Currently,
these are the 3 main roadblocks to successful hair cloning.(3)
Article by Staff
Sources & Further Reading:
1. How Cloning could be the cure for baldness, Medical Science
News, June 2004
2. Hair Cloning Nears Reality as Baldness Cure, Daniel J. DeNoon,
WebMD, November 2004
3. Why Hair Cloning Doesn't Work Just Yet, HairLossTalk.com,
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