American scientist may have found a cure for baldness utilizing new stem cell method.
While the cure for hair loss may still be a ways off, researchers believe that they have taken a major step forward towards finding a cure for hair loss, which is estimated to affect approximate-ly 80 million men and women in the US.
In a recent article on the Huffington Post profiling the Southern California research facility Sanform-Burnham Medical Research Institute has begun experimenting with hair growth with mice using stem cell methods — and then have found success.
“The method is a marked improvement over current methods that rely on transplanting existing hair follicles from one part of the head to another,” Dr. Alexey Terskikh, associate professor at the institute and research team member, said in a written statement to the Huffington Post. “Our stem cell method provides an unlimited source of cells from the patient for transplantation and isn’t limited by the availability of existing hair follicles.”
In theory, what Dr. Terskikh is alluding to is the possibility for a patient to regrow an entire head of hair even the patient has nothing to work with (i.e. completely bald). Unlike other procedures such as hair transplants, this stem cell method wouldn’t require a donor area or some amount of hair to work with to get results.
As one can imagine, such a procedure with such results would be a major game changer for millions of people around the world. Dermatologists around the country were contacted for comment and those who responded were in all in agreement about what this could do for the landscape of the industry.
In an email to the Huffington Post, Dr. Nicole Rogers (a dermatologist and hair trans-plant surgeon based in New Orleans) said, ”If this approach is proven to work in hu-mans, it will change existing treatments radically.”
San Francisco dermatologist and clinical instructor at Stanford University Dr. Marie Jhin further the sentiment. In an email with the Huffington Post, she described the stem cell method “…a breakthrough.”
However, Dr. Rogers was optimistically cautious, stating that over the years there have been many different procedures and techniques that have been touted as the break-through procedure to end hair loss. While finding success in hair growth in lab mice is a fine start, the challenge will be if the doctors of Sanford-Burnham can replicate the results with humans.
How does the technique work? Simple: “by exploiting the ability of the human pluripo-tent stem cells to turn into almost any other cells in the body.” Dr. Tershikh and his team members are manipulating these cells into dermal papilla cells that control the formation and growth of one’s hair follicles. When this has been done with the mice, the result is hair growth. This method, again in theory, is superior to the conventional hair transplant because during a hair transplant procedure not enough necessary dermal papilla cells can be collected and transplanted.
As research is ongoing, there isn’t a fixed timeline for when such a procedure would be available to the public. For now, the research team is continuing their study and looking for additional funding.
A paper describing the research was published Jan. 21, 2015 in the journal PLOS One.