Alopecia areata is an auto-immune disease that causes hair loss that ranges from small circular areas on the scalp to extensive or even total baldness. When extensive, it can be a socially debilitating disease, and it can be particularly difficult when those suffering are children.
When alopecia areata is localized, i.e. there are a limited number of bald patches, the condition often responds well to cortisone injected directly direct into the scalp. When the condition is more extensive, current treatments do not have a high rate of success. A new study, using hair cloning therapy to regrow hair, shows promise for all individuals suffering from the disease.
The study — conducted by Marwa Fawzi, a dermatologist at the University of Cairo Faculty of Medicine, and reported on Bloomberg.com — used stem cells from the scalps of eight children with alopecia areata to regenerate their own hair:
The Cairo researcher took small amounts of skin from the scalps of the children, isolated the hair follicle stem cells that stimulate hair production, and grew them in the lab, increasing the number of cells. After one month, she put the cells back into the scalps of the children, with numerous injections across the bald areas of their heads. ((Kids Shunned for Hair Loss Get Help From Their Own Stem Cells by Rob Waters. Posted on Bloomberg.com, July 10, 2009))
To read more on how various cloning processes work, view the Hair Cloning Methods page.
Six months after the hair cloning treatment, an evaluation showed a 50% increase in hair in more than half of the subjects. One of them, an 8-year-old boy, grew nearly a full head of hair after being almost completely bald before treatment. The article reports that the boy is grateful that he is now able to lead a more normal life, free from social isolation over his balding scalp.
Dr. Fawzi took new skin samples and examined the hair follicles themselves and could see that the injected stem cells had migrated into the follicles. There, the stem cells stimulated the follicles to transition from a dormant phase to a hair-generating phase.
Further testing is needed and a double-blind study using a larger number of patients in planned, but the study’s success could prove to be a turning point in stem cell cloning for hair restoration. Unlike alopecia areata, where the body’s immune system attacks one’s own hair follicles, in common baldness the culprit is the hormone DHT. In spite of the differences between these two conditions, we appear to be inching closer to the use of stem cell cloning therapy in the treatment of male pattern baldness.Posted by