Future Treatment Hair Loss - Hair Loss treatments

There are many different types of treatment available, some of which are long-established whereas others are relatively new. But new forms of treatment are being developed all the time which hold out the promise of a cure for hair loss.

One potential form of treatment is that of using stem cells to promote new hair growth.

Stem cell research and hair loss

Stem cell research is an exciting and somewhat controversial area of medicine which has the potential to cure a whole range of conditions which also includes hair loss.

Research carried out to date suggests that there is the potential to grow hair using cells within the body. The theory behind this is that these cells will ‘self-renew’ and transform themselves into specialist cells. And these include the ones found at the base of the hair follicles.

If you are suffering from androgenetic alopecia or some other type of hair loss then research suggests that these stem cells could enter a non-functioning follicle, divide and transform themselves into a healthy hair follicle. And this healthy follicle will stimulate new hair growth.

This process is initiated by means of chemical signals sent from the brain which ‘command’ the stem cells to migrate to the area within that body that needs re-activating. And this could apply to the hair follicles. If the current follicles are damaged or dead then these stem cells will replicate them and create healthy new follicles from which hair will grow.

That is the theory at present.

Much more work is needed into understanding how this specialisation would take place; how the stem cells would know to migrate to this area and the actual transformation. And, when you think that each follicle is comprised of 6 layers, this makes it an extremely complex process.

Some work has been done in this area with mice and the results are promising but it needs to be trialled in humans before any definite conclusions can be reached.

It sounds exciting but it is likely to be another 10 years or so before this treatment is widely available.

Other future developments include sophisticated wigs which are made from more natural and longer lasting materials; new types of medicines which are able to better target areas of hair loss and with fewer side effects and follicle cloning.

Follicle cloning

The theory behind this is that cloning multiple hair follicles taken from a donor site will mean an unlimited supply of hair grafts, and unlimited hair thickness.

And to take this idea further, researchers hope to be able to directly inject these cloned follicles into the scalp which would do away with the need for surgery.

Cloning is an extremely complicated process which involves cell biology, cell replication and genetics. In regard to the structure of the hair each follicle contains a range of different cells which combine together to produce a strand of hair.

And there would have to be some way of unlocking the DNA (genetic information) in those cells in order to use this as part of the cloning process.

A lot more work is needed here before it becomes a reality.

Another advanced technique is that of gene therapy. We know that some people inherit a gene for baldness which is then passed down through their family. Male pattern baldness is one such example of this.

The chemical which is responsible for this is dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone produced from the combination of testosterone and 5-alpha reductase. Gene therapy could be used to devise a method in which follicles with DHT attractor cells are changed into follicles with DHT resistant cells.

This treatment is in a very early stage but it does have potential and so more work is being carried out to see if it is a viable alternative to the problem of hair loss.

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