Could this new technology pave the way to cure baldness?
Recently an article appeared mentioning a new, groundbreaking technology to restore hair to those who previously to now, were unable to have a hair restoration procedure or were poor candidates for hair transplant surgery. Other medical options, such as Minoxidil or Finasteride, have long been considered out of the question for various reasons. (Women may not use Finasteride). Other people simply did not have the donor hairs necessary for a full hair transplant, as the average amount needed for your average transplant is 1,800 to 2,000 healthy grafts. The answer? Enter the Hair Farm, a futuristic hair restoration center where, if one had been born with a less than stellar crop of hair, they would be able to simply have a new, healthy crop of hair follicles grown in a lab in 3 weeks. This newly grown patch of hair follicles could then easily be transplanted into the person’s own scalp.
History of Hair Loss Cures
First, there should be some background on this as it has been a fiercely debated topic of discussion for years, with new devices, drugs or technologies regularly touted as the next big thing in hair loss cures. If you really want to delve into it, check Pinterest and search “Vintage Hair Loss ads” and you’ll see a plethora of interesting and downright frightening devices, oils, or other so-called “cures.” As of late, the Bioprinting of hair follicles, and regeneration of hair follicles right up to the actual cloning of hair follicles have also been part of the discussion, on a much more serious level.
The latest study to come out was created by Columbia University’s Angela Christiano Ph.D., who recently released her findings that there are specific cells that place hair follicles into a resting or dormant phase. This means they are still physically on the scalp but are dormant, and in a state that they are not creating new hairs on the head. These JAK-STAT pathways, as Christiano’s team has named them, work in a similar fashion to the pathways that Finasteride and Minoxidil work. By using a JAK-STAT inhibitor, which literally shuts down the activity of these cells, the once dormant cells will reawaken, and begin the normal cycle of hair growth once again.
In the 2nd study, also from Dr. Christiano and her team, have created a way to grow fully functional human hair in a petri dish. This “Hair Farm” as some people in the industry have referred to it, may be a new way of creating a potentially unlimited supply of new hairs and may open the floodgates for hair restoration to many more people who were not candidates before. The scientists used new and very small 3D printing to create plastic molds by which donated human skin cells were grown onto. After placing keratin cells onto the newly created donor skin, and then adding in specific types of growth hormones, actual human hair follicles began to grow in about 3 weeks. In theory, these new follicles would then be able to be transplanted into the donor’s scalp.
The Future is coming
Both of these technologies may someday dramatically change the way in which a person approaches their own hair loss, unfortunately, the reality of an easily reproducible, cost-effective way to grow your own hair may be several years, if not decades away.
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