The Sweet Hair After
Future Hair-Loss Treatments Promise What's not Hair Today will Be Hair Tomorrow.
The Future for Hair-Loss Treatments
"There's many a man has more hair than wit."
The Holy Grail of hair-loss treatment is getting shutdown
follicles to regenerate. That's what Cotsarelis's lab is working on. Already
they've made a major breakthrough: They've learned how to manipulate these stem
cells in the test tube.
It's not the only lab working in this area.
"Others are taking hair follicles out of human scalp and
growing them with dermal papilla cells," Cotsarelis says. "If they grow
in culture, you might be able to recombine them with skin cells and form new
follicles. This would let you expand the number of follicles you get for a hair
transplant. This may not be that far off -- five to 10 years, maybe. There's
very good evidence you will be able to do that."
The company that's leading this research is Aderans -- the huge
wig manufacturer based in Japan.
"We are off and running," Tom Barrows, PhD, director of
product development at Aderans Research Institute Inc., Atlanta, tells
"Hair cloning is something this has been called, but we are
not real keen on the word cloning. We are not creating a whole new organism,
but it is a duplication process. ... We are taking follicular stem cells --
cells that have capacity of creating new follicle -- and packaging them into
follicle-inducing implants. "
A gene called sonic hedgehog is also making headway. A company
called Curis already is trying to tame sonic hedgehog for hair growth.
"Sonic hedgehog can convert resting hair into growing
hair," Cotsarelis says. "We really don't know it's full role, but if it
controls follicle size and growth, it could be something a treatment might be
Sonic hedgehog is just one of several key genes scientists are
tinkering with in labs.
If this all sounds futuristic, it is. But there are good
reasons this kind of technology will move forward. Today, Americans spend $800
million on hair restoration surgery. And they'd spend a lot more if the surgery
got faster and better.
"If it can be done, it will be done," Barrows says.