Hair cloning may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but it’s something that exists today. This type of cell therapy is already used for certain cancers and other diseases.
A successful hair follicle multiplication procedure could revolutionize the world of cosmetic surgery by providing an unlimited supply of healthy hair. However, the process is still in its early stages.
What is Hair Follicle Cloning?
Hair cloning reproduces cells, organs, and structures from a single parent rather than mixing genetic material from both parents (like in sexual reproduction). Cloning has been possible with many types of living organisms. In terms of creating new hair follicles, this process may one day allow hair restoration surgeons to fill in bald spots or restore fuller, thicker hair for patients with female baldness.
Scientists have made progress in cloning hair cells in vitro and have even produced a few new follicles in this way. Before human cloned hair can be used for transplantation, however, several challenges still need to be resolved. For example, researchers need to determine the best type of cell to clone (dermal sheath cells are the most promising), how to culture the cells outside the body, and what matrix type is needed to support the cloned hair growth.
In the meantime, patients undergoing hair restoration treatments can help make this exciting new treatment a reality by banking their follicles in a unique storage solution for future use when cloning becomes a more viable option. Our team of professionals can explain the process in detail and help you decide if you are a candidate for hair banking. Learn more about this innovative treatment by scheduling a consultation with them today.
How Does Hair Follicle Cloning Work?
As the name implies, cloning involves reproducing cells, organs, or entire organisms that have exact copies of their parent. This differs from sexual reproduction, which requires DNA mixing from both parents. Cloning is a highly efficient method of creating offspring and can be used to create new organs that might not otherwise have developed on their own. It can also be used to produce offspring that have desirable characteristics, such as DHT resistance.
Scientists have been working on various ways to reproduce hair follicles to find solutions for hair loss and male-patterned baldness. Unfortunately, most of these methods are still in the early stages of development. However, cloning is the most promising approach.
In the past, scientists have tried to clone whole hair follicles by using rodent embryonic stem cells. These are cells that can grow into any cell in the body and may be able to produce hair if they are implanted in the right place. Unfortunately, these experiments were not successful.
Recently, scientists have been concentrating on a method more akin to tissue engineering than cloning. This method involves taking dermal papilla cells from a patient’s scalp and either rejuvenating existing follicles or implanting these cells alongside miniaturized follicles to generate brand-new follicles. This experimental approach is still promising but could eventually provide a viable alternative to hair transplant surgery.
What Are the Benefits of Hair Follicle Cloning?
Hair cloning is one of the most promising treatments for hereditary baldness, but it is not yet widely accessible. In traditional hair cloning, a sample of a patient’s germinative hair cells is multiplied outside the body before being re-implanted into the scalp to generate new permanent hair. Hair cloning could eliminate the need for hair transplantation because it would provide an unlimited supply of donor’s hair.
Unfortunately, researchers have not been able to perfect hair follicle cloning and multiplication. There are various reasons for this, but most have to do with the complex nature of hair follicles and how difficult it is to create a culture that can successfully reproduce them in large quantities.
When hair follicles are transplanted, they must be inserted into the scalp to mimic natural hair growth. This is impossible with cloned follicles because the cells do not grow in the same direction that they naturally would.
The good news is that there are other ways to treat thinning hair with similar results without waiting for hair cloning technology to be developed further. Hair Transplant Associates offers hair banking, which involves harvesting healthy, high-quality follicular units and cryopreserving them for future restoration procedures. By doing this earlier in life, patients can prevent their follicles from degenerating and “stop the clock” on their hair loss.
What Are the Risks of Hair Follicle Cloning?
Hair follicle cloning may one day provide the “holy grail” of hair restoration treatment. However, researchers have several hurdles to overcome before this treatment becomes available.
Cloning reproduces cells, organs, or entire organisms from a single parent. This is in contrast to sexual reproduction, which involves mixing DNA from both parents. Hair restoration surgeons already use a form of cloning when they transplant donated hair into bald scalps. When a hair follicle is split into multiple grafts, the resulting clones will have the same genetic characteristics as the original grafts, including resistance to DHT.
The only permanent treatment for genetic and hereditary hair loss is hair transplantation, which involves moving healthy donor hair from the back of the head to the thinning areas of the scalp. The challenge is that only some have enough healthy donor hair to achieve their desired full, thick head. Hair follicle cloning and multiplication could solve this problem by providing an unlimited donor hair supply.
Many individuals and institutions, primarily outside States, claim to have cracked the code for hair follicle cloning. These false claims may be illegal in some countries where the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Federal Trade Commission actively monitor and prosecute false medical claims.