Science may have the cure for hair loss

By Lesley Dobson, Thursday 24 October 2013

Scientific breakthrough could change our approach to hair restoration on both medical and cosmetic grounds.

Man checking his hairThis new method of hair loss treatment offers the possibility of inducing large numbers of hair follicles or rejuvenating existing hair follicles

Scientists and hair growth experts have been trying to find a way to tackle the problem of hair loss for years. Now a new study carried out by a team of researchers from Columbia University Medical Centre in the USA, and Durham University in the UK, may have discovered the answer.

Scientists from Durham University and Columbia University Medical Centre in America, collaborated on this research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Existing methods of hair restoration involve moving hair from one part of the head to another. The new technique involves taking human dermal papilla cells (from inside the base of human hair follicles), to generate new hair follicles.

This new technique could be especially beneficial for women who have suffered hair loss. “About 90% of women with hair loss are not strong candidates for hair transplantation surgery because of insufficient donor hair,” explains co-study leader Angela M. Christiano, PhD, the Richard and Mildred Rhodebeck Professor of Dermatology and professor of genetics development.

“This method offers the possibility of inducing large numbers of hair follicles or rejuvenating existing hair follicles, starting with cells grown from just a few hundred donor hairs.”

While this is good news for men with naturally-occurring hair-thinning and baldness, it has the potential to help women and those who have lost hair through medical reasons or accidents too.

“It could make hair transplantation available to individuals with a limited number of follicles, including those with female-pattern hair loss, scarring alopecia, and hair loss due to burns.” The scientists also believe it could help men in the early stages of baldness, while they still have hair.

Part of the research involved harvesting dermal papilla cells from seven human donors. The researchers then cloned these in a laboratory, and transplanted them into human skin grafted onto the back of mice. Five of the seven tests were successful, resulting in new hair growth that lasted at least six weeks.

Professor Colin Jahoda, in the School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences at Durham University is also a study co-author. “Ultimately, we think that this study is an important step towards the goal of creating a replacement skin that contains hair follicles for use with, for example, burn patients.”

The hair-loss medications available at the moment tend to slow down the loss of hair follicles, or may stimulate existing hairs to grow. However, unlike this new process, they don’t create new hair follicles. “This approach has the potential to transform the medical treatment of hair loss,” says Professor Christiano. “Our method has the potential to actually grow new follicles using a patient’s own cells.”

“This could greatly expand the utility of hair restoration surgery to women and to younger patients – now it is largely restricted to the treatment of male-pattern baldness.”

This research is still in its early stages, and more work needs to be carried out. However the research team is confident that clinical trials could begin in the near future.

Subscribe to our free fortnightly health newsletter for more fascinating health news.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

Related

  • Balding man

    Preventing hair loss

    Although most of us want our hair to be our crowning glory, its condition can also act as an indicator of our general health and wellbeing, particularly as we get older

    Read on

  • Balding man

    Why going bald may be a clue to your heart health

    Going thin on top? Better take good care of your heart then...

    Read on

  • Hair

    Hair care tips or the over 50s

    Whether you want to keep your hair a natural and healthy silver or hide the grey with hair dye, Liz Coggins advises on how to make (or fake) more shine, colour and thickness for your hair

    Read on


COMMENTS

Type your comment here


 characters remaining.

Saga Magazine

For more fascinating stories and insightful articles, why not try Saga Magazine for just £1 for 3 issues.

Saga Magazine e-newsletter

Sign up to our free newsletter today

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter for all the latest recipes, gardening tips, prize draws, interviews and more delivered to your inbox every Friday.

Saga Magazine app

You can now read your Saga Magazine on a huge range of mobile devices - from the Kindle Fire to an iPhone or iPad.

Win with Saga Magazine

It's our birthday, but you're getting the presents!

To celebrate Saga Magazine's 30th birthday we've pulled together 30 wonderful prize giveaways worth £30,000 in total, including a holiday to India's Golden Triangle.