In recent years, the media has excitedly reported on the newest breakthroughs in hair cloning research. And these stories often include optimistic messages of hope that based on these results, new procedures to end baldness will soon be available to average sufferers of pattern baldness. Therefore, you may naturally be wondering if it is worth it to wait just a few years to undergo this type of hair restoration treatment.
Our site believes that individuals should always attempt to understand a larger picture which answers the questions of how and why, instead of just accepting surface facts. Only then will it be possible to choose a reliable course of action with true personal conviction.
How does hair cloning work?
It is important for those interested in restoring their hair to be aware of what hair cloning truly entails, since the term itself does not accurately imply how it works.
When most people think of cloning, they imagine the use of the DNA template to create entirely new structures, including hair follicles.
But with the research being done today, this is not what occurs. The base of the hair follicles contains what are known as derma papilla cells, which are of particular interest to hair cloning scientists. These cells have inductive properties with the ability to induce basic epidermal cells to become something different. In this case, what results are hair follicle cells.
The hair cloning that is now being developed is not the same as hair multiplication. In fact, there are no legitimate or research supported methods associated with the concept of multiplying hair follicles. At the moment, it remains as a mere possibility for restoring hair, not a fully developed and reliable form of treatment.
Why will it take more research before cloning becomes an official method for restoring hair
So far, researchers like Takashi Tsuji (University of Tokyo)have only succeeded in creating working human hair follicles on rodent models. They have been able to harness the ability of derma papilla cells to covert regular epithelial cells into more specialized hair follicle cells within lab environments. Some experiments focused on the use of vitamin D to facilitate this conversion and found this to be valid. Dr. Angela Christiano of Columbia University found that using 3D aggregates of DP cells was an effective method of induction which is more applicable to the human physiology, as opposed to rats. Another researcher. George Xu (University of Pennsylvania) found a way to scale the results of using derma papilla and epidermal cells.
The resulting follicles produced wirey forms of hair shafts and displayed the pilo erectus reflex as well. Although these results are not perfect, they represent enormous strides towards innovative hair restoration procedures through this form of cloning.
The creation of follicles is only really one of a series of phases needed before this type of procedure can be made available to the public. Additional research is needed to refine the following areas:
(1) controlling the texture and color of the hair
(2) ensuring the proper direction, angle and orientation of growth
(3) understanding the how the immune system will react to lab created follicles.
Realistically, the availability of hair cloning will require many more years of research before these answers are attained and pass clinical trials prior to its official debut.
Dr. Sanusi Umar is a pioneer in hair transplant surgery and is widely published and recognized in his field. Dr. Umar is certified by the American Board of Dermatology and the founder of DermHair Clinic in Los Angeles, CA.