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Hair Restoration Research

Hair Cloning Researchers Outline Hurdles Towards Hair Loss Therapy

Dr. Claire Higgins and her colleague Dr. Colin Jahoda have published an overview of hair cloning and the challenges scientists face in attempting to develop hair regeneration therapies for androgenetic alopecia, or common balding. The article, published in Hair Transplant Forum International, points to two central problems in developing a hair loss therapy. The first is the difficulty in getting dermal papilla cells in humans to self-aggregate and form hair follicles and the second is the inability, thus far, of scientists to generate normal hairs and follicles.

Higgins C, et al. 2014

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Hair Restoration Research

Hair Cloning Prospects Boosted By Breakthrough 3-D Culture Technique

Scientists from Durham University in the UK have shown for the first time that a lab technique, called a three-dimensional cell culture, can produce spherical structures that are similar to naturally occurring structures in hair follicle formation (called dermal papilla or DP). This breakthrough study by Claire Higgins and Colin Jahoda, published in the June 2010 issue of the journal Experimental Dermatology, has the potential to unlock the ability of researchers to develop functional DP cells which can be used in hair restoration techniques such as hair cloning or hair multiplication.

Higgins C, et al. 2010

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Hair Restoration Answers

What are the Obstacles to Hair Cloning Using Plucked Hairs?

Q: What are the possible obstacles that you see with hair cloning using the plucking technique? — D.E., Boston, MA

A: Plucked hair does not contain that much epithelial tissue, so we do not yet know what the success of the procedure will be. Plucked hairs will most likely grow into individual hair follicles that are not follicular units and therefore, will not have completely the natural (full) look of two and three hair grafts. This limitation may be circumvented, however, by placing several hairs in one recipient site. It is possible that the sebaceous gland may not fully develop, so the cloned hair may not have the full luster of a transplanted hair.

The most important concern is that, since the follicle is made, in part, by recipient cells that may be androgen sensitive, the plucked hair derived follicles may not be permanent. It is possible, that since all the components of a normal hair may not be present, the cloned hair may only survive for one hair cycle.

Since the ACell extracellular matrix is derived from porcine (pig) tissue, the procedure may not be appropriate if you are Kosher or allergic to pork. Of course, we do not know what other obstacles may arise since this technique is so new –- or even if the ones mentioned above will really be obstacles at all -– only time will tell.

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Hair Restoration Answers

What are Obstacles to Hair Cloning Techniques?

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.

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