A new hair follicle model has been produced by scientists in Singapore that may help in the research for drugs that could help with hair regrowth. The scientists, from the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, have been developing a hair follicle structure that is very similar to the real hair follicle. It is hoped that with its close design to real hair it will enable scientists to better understand how hair follicles develop and grow.

Hair has a three phase growth cycle and with the use of this model there may be more understanding as to the three phases. When a new hair is produced, from the hair follicle, a new cycle begins with the interaction of the epithelial cells that surround the hair shaft and the dermal papilla cells at the base of the follicle bulb. With this new model, which is in 3D, this interaction can be studied with a view to developing new treatments for hair loss and hair regrowth especially male pattern baldness. It is the same size and has the same cell arrangement as that of a real hair follicle and with the use of microfibre fabrication technology2 it can engineer different types of cells. As this model has similar cell behaviour to hair follicles, when hair cells are implanted into the transparent, fine fibres they can be studied under a microscope. This could lead to a breakthrough in the development of new treatments. In the meanwhile there are two treatments that have been medically approved for use in preventing further hair loss and increase hair growth. Minoxidil is a topical treatment that is applied directly to the scalp twice daily and the gentle massage can sometimes help to stimulate blood flow to the hair follicles and allow its ingredients to be absorbed into the scalp. It is a treatment that can be used by both men and women. Propecia is an oral treatment that can only be used by men over the age of 18 and helps to inhibit DHT which is known to destroy hair follicles in male pattern baldness. It is important to note however that both solutions have been linked with side effects, particularly in the case of Propecia. Men have the advantage of being able to use both treatments for added strength. The sooner treatment is started the better the success. Hair falls out on a daily basis at a rate of 100 to 150 hairs as part of its natural cycle, if more than this seems to be falling out when brushing or washing then there may be a problem and advice should be sought. A hair specialist will take information of medical history, family history, current treatments and medications, diet and lifestyle and if needs be a blood test to rule out any underlying illness that has not been seen. With this information they will be able to diagnose a suitable treatment of either minoxidil or propecia, or for men both with added supplements. Hair growth boosters can come in the form of capsules containing added nutrients that will help to boost the body’s system and ensure valuable nutrients reach the hair follicles. For the best results getting an early diagnosis for genetic hair loss can make a big difference in the success rate. If the bald patches can be treated before the follicles are completely destroyed there may be a chance of hair regrowth but as said before, once the treatment stops so will the hair regrowth particularly for genetic conditions. Whilst it is not a permanent cure, it can certainly help further loss providing the medication is continued.

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