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Bernstein Medical - Center for Hair Restoration
Hair Restoration Research

Hair Cloning Breakthrough with “Mass Production” of Epithelial Stem Cells

Progress towards hair cloning may have just have shifted up another gear thanks to scientists at the University of Pennsylvania and the New Jersey Institute of Technology. The breakthrough study published January 28th, 2014 is the first to show the successful transformation of adult human skin cells into quantities of epithelial stem cells necessary for hair regeneration.

The researchers, led by Dr. Xiaowei “George” Xu, started with human skin cells called dermal fibroblasts, then transformed those into a type of stem cell called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). These were then transformed into epithelial stem cells (EpSCs). This important step had never been achieved before in either humans or mice. The epithelial stem cells were combined with mouse dermal cells, that can be induced to form hair follicles, and then grafted on a mouse host. The epithelial cells and dermal cells then grew to form a functional human epidermis and follicles structurally similar to human hair follicles. The exhibits that accompany the study include photographic evidence of human hairs.

Yang R, et al. 2014

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Hair Restoration Answers

When will Dr. Christiano’s Research on Follicular Neogenesis (Hair Cloning) be Available?

Q: I read, with considerable interest, your excellent article on the latest in Dr. Angela Christiano’s work on follicular neogenesis. It seems to me that the next questions we should be asking are: when will testing begin on human subjects and when might her research develop into a hair cloning treatment that is available to the general public?

A: It is very difficult to determine when this phase of the research might begin and it is even harder to predict when treatment might become available. First, the technology is not quite there. Dr. Christiano showed in her recent paper that changing the environment of skin (fibroblast) cells so that they could form into 3-D cultures enabled them to induce human hair-follicle growth. Although this was a major step towards cloning hair, additional work needs to be done before we will be able to mass produce fully-functioning human hair follicles to the extent needed for hair transplantation.

In addition, research on human subjects requires that experiments meet rigorous federal regulatory standards and these take time to be approved and carried out. Supposing that further study of follicle neogenesis results in a breakthrough treatment for hair loss, this treatment would still require meeting substantial efficacy and safety requirements of the FDA before it would be made available to the public. We will be communicating important developments as they occur through our Hair Cloning Research section and through periodic updates in the Bernstein Medical Newsletter.

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Hair Restoration Answers

How Are Hair Cloning, Hair Multiplication, and Follicular Neogeneis Different?

Q: What is the difference between hair cloning, hair multiplication, and follicular neogeneis? I have read about these terms on the internet and am completely confused.

A: Cloning generally refers to the multiplication of fetal stem cells or embryonic tissues. “Hair cloning”, as the term is generally used, involves the multiplication of adult tissue cells that are used to induce the formation of new hair, so the term is not exactly accurate.

“Hair multiplication” refers to the multiplication of adult hair structures. This model is not actively being pursued since the hair follicle is too complex to be simply cultured in a tube. Instead individual cells called fibroblasts are removed from the scalp multiplied in tissue culture and then these are injected back into the scalp in the hope that they will induce intact follicles to form.

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