New cure for baldness?
If you’re one of the millions of Americans experiencing hair loss, you may be in luck. Experts believe they have found a new way to treat baldness using a person’s own cells.
In a new study, researchers at Columbia University Medical Center harvested dermal papillae – cells inside the base of human hair follicles — from seven men and cloned them in tissue culture. After a few days, they injected those cells into human skin that had been grafted onto the backs of lab mice.
Five out of the seven grafts grew new hair follicles that lasted at least six weeks. A DNA analysis confirmed that the follicles were indeed human and a genetic match with the donors’.
The success is encouraging since the current treatment options for men and women experiencing hair loss are slim, researchers said.
“Current hair-loss medications tend to slow the loss of hair follicles or potentially stimulate the growth of existing hairs, but they do not create new hair follicles,” said study c0-leader Dr. Angela M. Christiano, in a news release. “Our method, in contrast, has the potential to actually grow new follicles using a patient’s own cells.”
Since this new approach requires very few existing hairs in order to work, it could make hair transplantation available to more patients, said researchers. This includes women with hair loss, who tend to have insufficient donor hair, as well as men in the early stages of baldness, individuals with scarring alopecia, and those with hair loss due to burns.
So far, the new technique has only been tested in mice. More work needs to be done before the method can be tested in humans, researchers said, but they are optimistic for clinical trials to begin in the near future.
“This approach has the potential to transform the medical treatment of hair loss,” said Dr. Christiano.
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