What are Obstacles to Hair Cloning Techniques?

November 16th, 2006

Q: What are the major obstacles for scientists to cloning hair?

A: The main problem is that the cultured cells may lose their phenotype with multiple passages, i.e. lose their ability to differentiate into hair follicles after they have been multiplied.

Another problem of hair cloning is that the orientation of hair direction must be controlled. With mouse experiments, the hairs grow at all different directions. Scientists need to find a way to align the hair so that it grows in the right direction. Hair, of course, must also be of a quality that is cosmetically acceptable and matches the patient existing hair. And the hair should grow in follicular units. Individual hairs will not give the fullness or natural look of follicular units.

Another problem is the issue of safety. Are we sure that cultured cells may not turn into something else – such as malignancy cells with uncontrolled growth?

Finally, FDA approval would be required and this takes time. It is true that you do not need FDA approval for using your own hair, such as a hair transplant; however, when you take cells from the body and manipulate it in the lab, this requires FDA approval.

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Posted by Robert M. Bernstein M.D. on November 16th, 2006 at 11:20 am


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