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Hair Cloning as a Solution to Hair Loss?

Posted by Imagine Clinic for Hair on January 25, 2011

There is one question that I have been asked frequently over the last few years and that is, “So Doc, what do you think about hair cloning? Have they gotten anywhere with that?” I am hesitant to be too optimistic about any advances that have been made recently or will be made in the years to come. There are many obstacles that scientists have not been able to overcome and they are not even close to testing this process on humans. Hair follicles that are grown in Petri dishes look like mold and I would not believe that they are safe to transplant.

Cloning hair has been in the works for decades.  In the 1970’s hair follicles were cloned on mice whiskers, but the biggest problem and potential hazard of cloning thus far is that the process is tumorigenic and malignant. In the lab and specifically with these mice studies, the outcomes show tumor formation at the test site.

One of the major obstacles of hair cloning is that the hair follicle cannot form into a real follicle because the stem cells require an infrastructure to grow on called a “basement membrane.”  Some synthetic infrastructures are available and tested, but no reports have been published–many are still waiting for something to come out of these studies.

My prediction of when cloning technology will be available is 20-30 years from now. Besides my opinion and knowledge of the specifics of the studies being done and their obstacles, there is very little grant money available for this. Most hair transplant doctors do not have research expertise. Lastly, FDA approval for cloning takes time. As exciting as the prospect is, cloning hair to solve hair loss is going to take some time.

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