The Latest in Hair Cloning
Having just returned from the hair restoration workshop I recently co-chaired in Rome, Italy, I am excited to share some information on one of the most widely discussed topics of the week – hair cloning. Though some thought they’d never see the day, the latest results of a clinical study show that in as few as eight years, hair restoration surgery using cloned hair follicle cells may be a viable option for those grappling with hair loss.
As I discussed with fellow leading hair replacement surgeons during a press conference in Rome, follicular cell implantation uses cloned hair follicle cells to create new hair on balding areas of the scalp. The process utilizes a patient’s own hair follicles harvested from a donor area on the back of the head. Cells from these follicles are then multiplied through a cloning process and injected back into the scalp, resulting in new hair follicles. A journalist who attended the conference covered our discussion in a London Times article.
While the clinical trials have shown early positive results in humans, surgeons cannot control the angulation or direction of the actual hair growth. This means that cloned hair will more likely be considered “filler hair” after a hair transplantation surgery. In addition, it is believed that these hair follicles may grow “first generation hair” only, which would fall out over time. Therefore, the follicular cell implantation process may require multiple sessions to maintain the appearance of a full, healthy head of hair.
Down the road we may see a second cell therapy that would create a more aesthetically pleasing result. This type of cloning would involve growing intact hair follicles from the cells in vitro, and then planting the entire follicle into the patient’s scalp. However, this process is in the very early stages and we are realistically 8-10 years away from human trials.
These and other innovations on the horizon offer additional hope for the millions of men and women suffering from hair loss. It is exciting to think about the possibilities, and I will continue to provide updates on this important field of research!