Will great hair transplants one day come from a prescription bottle? Researchers in Great Britain and the U.S. have taken a major step forward. According to lead researcher and associate professor of Molecular Dermatology at Columbia University, her team and researchers at the University of Durham have generated hair follicles that grow human hair.
The technique involves removing cells from the base of the dermal papillae (located at the base of a human follicle) and cloning them. They are then implanted into human skin grafted to the back of a mouse. While this may seem like a far cry from great hair transplants, this new technique may soon be tried on humans, though obstacles remain. Those who have great hair transplants know that angling, positioning, color and other important cosmetic factors are critical to natural looking hair. It is hoped that someday, doctors will be able to inject cloned hair cells directly under the skin to create new follicles. But, until cosmetic factors are dealt with, it seems that great hair transplants will be the best option for several years to come.
At some point it is hoped that this technique can be used to add hair follicles to skin grafts which can then be grafted to burn victims.
No matter its use for treating actual patients, growing hair in skin grafts will allow scientists to test new drug therapies on hair actually grown in the lab—something that has never been done before.