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Bald is beautiful these days. But not everyone wants to be hairless.
The condition of hair loss does affect half of all men by the age of 50 and in fact half of all women who are in their menopausal years.
But relatively soon it appears, baldness will be an option, only if you choose it–because you’ll be able to clone your hair-producing cells.
“A woman’s hair is her crown and glory, it represents beauty and youth and you know to be young and losing it, it is devastating as devastating as having your breast removed and needed reconstructive surgery.” These are strong words from 33 year old Jeanine Acca, who started going bald 11 years ago. But they demonstrate how emotionally charged the problem of hair loss can be.
It got so bad, Jeanine decided to have a hair transplantation, which involves transplanting–moving–the entire hair follicle from dense areas of hair growth to the balding areas.
But in the near future, this procedure may be old hat.
The problem with follicular transplants is the finite supply of donor hair. Eventually, it runs out.
What if there was a way to grow new hair–that would match the person’s color, texture, and growth pattern? It can now be done through a process called follicle neogenesis—hair cloning. It takes advantage of the fact that hair follicle cells like to multiply… a lot.
As part of a routine transplantation, doctors would remove around 100 hair follicles. The cells of these follicles are nurtured and encouraged to grow and multiply.
About six to eight weeks later, the patient receives many more of his or her own follicular cells than were removed.
And those cells create numerous new hairs.
“The thing that hair cloning means is that for the first time the ability to get past the limitations of the amount of donor hair you have.//This will be the first time you can actually make more, if you need more,” says Dr. Ken Washenik, Medical Director of Bosley Hair Instititute.
This technology will be used to augment or add to the density you can get from a conventional follicle based transplant.
“We can get a hair follicle to form in as little as eight days, but// in the human it will probably be similar to when you move an intact follicle and it will take around twelve weeks or three months for that follicle to organize and grow up through the skin so about the same time,” says Dr. Washenik.
Jeanine is happy with her follicle transplant, but she’s not done yet. “If hair cloning was available today, I would be the guinea pig on the table, without a doubt, I would defiantly do it. Who knows maybe one day I will have more hair than the average person,” she hopes.
So far, there has been one phase one study, the initial phase of study, completed by a group of researchers in England on hair cloning.
Dr. Washenik says they will be submitting an application to the FDA in the next few weeks to start clinical trials here in the u.s.
The hope is that it will be available in just a few years.