Follica, an American company that is developing new technology to treat hair loss, has announced that it has received notice from the US Patent and Trademark Office of a patent allowance on its novel hair loss treatments.
The company was co-founded by Dr George Costarelis, of the University of Pennsylvania, and has an exclusive worldwide license to develop technology which it believes could stimulate the production of new hair follicles in humans.
Until recently, it was believed that everyone was born with a particular number of hair follicles and that if one was lost or killed off, that loss was permanent. However, Dr Costarelis and his team believe they may have found a way to create new hair follicles, by harnessing a mechanism in the body's own wound-healing procedure.
Who can benefit?
The most exciting indication for this treatment, should it eventually find its way into the worldwide marketplace, is androgenetic alopecia – also known as male pattern baldness or female pattern baldness.
There are many possible causes of androgenetic alopecia
, including stress, age, hormonal changes and – of course – genetics. Experts believe that sufferers' hair follicles have an underlying weakness that causes them to produce increasingly thin, weak hair as time goes on.
There are treatments available that can delay or even reverse androgenetic alopecia in its early stages, but once hair loss is in full swing, it is believed that the hair follicles are either lost completely or are dormant, so that the only options until recently have been hair transplant surgery or scalp micropigmentation (SMP).
If the Follica treatment proves effective and becomes available on a global scale, it might represent an alopecia treatment that can provide sufferers of male pattern baldness with the possibility of recovering their natural hair.
Another group who stand to benefit from the Follica technology
are sufferers of alopecia areata. Rarer than androgenetic alopecia, this form of hair loss is thought to an autoimmune disorder, related to skin conditions such as psoriasis.
Alopecia areata often comes on very suddenly, with sufferers losing sometimes just patches of hair, sometimes all the hair on their head and body. Whilst the hair does sometimes grow back, in many cases the hair loss is permanent, so the Follica technology could present sufferers with new hope for a return to normal life.
Follica says its treatment will combine an out-patient procedure with at-home therapy.