Hair cloning is one of the newest and hottest hair restoration trends in combating hair loss, but it is still in its research stages. The method is being specifically engineered to treat male (and female) pattern baldness, but it may be a great way to counter other types of hair loss as well. If you suffer from male pattern baldness and you’ve heard of this proposed hair growth technique, you may be excited. And you should be because hair cloning research is making its way to providing an innovative, effective solution for even the most severe hair loss cases. If you’ve heard about it, but aren’t exactly sure what hair cloning is, then you’re in the right place.
Researchers have been studying the idea of hair cloning for quite some time, but recently have had some pretty big breakthroughs with the hair restoration technique. Because there is no definitive procedure (it’s still in the research phase), the technique itself varies by the researcher. Here’s the basic idea:
Experts realized that even in severe cases of hair loss—on completely bald heads—there are usually healthy hair follicles that arise from stem cells within the scalp. These follicles can be removed from the scalp area by a surgeon. In the process of hair cloning, the germinative cells from the follicles are then multiplied using one of a few various cloning techniques. Different researchers are testing the use of different culturing methods to clone the cells, but they may use cloning rings and other methods that are already commonly used in stem cell cloning.
Another form of hair multiplication (also still in research phase) includes plucking a hair at the root, along with its surround germinative cells. The hair, along with these cells, is then implanted into the scalp, where the germinative cells work to create new hair follicles.
The new cells, which look and operate just like the original healthy hair follicle, can then be surgically placed in the scalp, where they will, theoretically, form new hair growth. The idea behind hair cloning is so popular because one healthy cell can be used to make hundreds or thousands of clones. With other hair transplant surgeries, hair follicles are simply lifted from one place and placed in another, which can create more evenly dispersed hair and help to cover bald or thinning spots. These standard hair transplant surgeries don’t create more hair but merely move existing hair around to create the illusion of more hair. Cloning creates more, new hair follicles, so your hair will really be as thick and full as it looks.
Several research organizations have invested in hair cloning research. One of the first companies to begin experimenting with the hair cloning process was Intercytex, who took stem cells from the back of the neck, cloned them, and implanted them back into the subject’s scalp. In the Phase II trial, two-thirds of the subjects saw new hair growth. Intercytex saw their development as a “cure for hair loss” and continued with their trials, hoping to release the method to the public. Phase III of the trials was much less successful. This did not stop other research institutes and private researchers from continuing work on hair cloning, though.
One of the most notable was Aderans Research Institute, a Japanese company located and operated within the U.S. Aderans was also unsuccessful in perfecting the multiplication process but did find that their methods worked well for revitalizing the follicles to prevent future hair loss. ARI cut funding and discontinued research in 2013.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania used similar methods of extracting stem cells and multiplying them. However, they eventually realized that the number of stem cells in a non-bald scalp is the same as that of a bald scalp, meaning that a lack of stem cells is not the problem. However, their research concluded that bald scalps have far fewer progenitor cells, which are similar to stem cells but more specific, in this case to hair follicles. These progenitor cells are used to “activate” the stem cells needed to regenerate hair growth. The University of Pennsylvania is one of many groups who is still working towards solidifying this hair cloning method and making it fully available to the public.
While many research groups have tried to produce a hair cloning method and failed, those who have persisted with their research have made groundbreaking advances towards a reliable treatment for hair loss. At this point, hair cloning procedures are being successfully completed, with only a few drawbacks. For instance, cloned hair may be thinner or have a slightly different appearance than the scalp’s original hair. Some research groups are simply waiting to see if the newly regenerated follicles with maintain hair growth over time or focusing on methods to make the procedure more reliable. Some say that medications and topical treatments are the way forwards after cloning and that they may help thicken and sustain hair growth. Much of the new evidence is not being released to the public just yet.
It is hard to say when hair cloning will be easily available to the public. In 2010, the Berlin Technical University suggested they would have cloning procedures available to the public by 2015, but it didn’t quite happen so fast. Many other researchers have made claims and failed and some say that they will have the procedure thoroughly tested and available to the public within the next year. However, some research groups have been able to make similar methods available, such as Dr. Gho’s HASCI treatment, which is available at his clinics in London, Jakarta, Cannes, and Maastricht. Dr. Naughten of Histogen, known for his injectable Hair Stimulating Complex, claims that new cloning techniques will be available to the public in Mexico in 2018. It is speculated that Dr. Guillemat of CFS Barcelona will make his stem cell transplant procedure available to the public very soon as well. However, certain regulations may make it difficult to make the procedure available in the U.S. and many more clinical trials need to be done before the procedure is made public.