Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and collaborators at Durham University in the UK have devised a hair restoration method that can generate new human hair growth, rather than simply redistribute hair from one part of the scalp to another. The approach could significantly expand the use of hair transplantation to women with hair loss, who tend to have insufficient donor hair, as well as to men in the early stages of baldness. The study was published on October 21, 2013 in the online edition of PNAS. “About 90 percent of women with hair loss are not strong candidates for hair transplantation surgery because of insufficient donor hair,” said co-study leader Angela M. Christiano, Ph.D., the Richard and Mildred Rhodebeck Professor of Dermatology and professor of genetics & development at CUMC. “This method offers the possibility of inducing large numbers of hair follicles or rejuvenating existing hair follicles, starting with cells grown from just a few hundred donor hairs. It could make hair transplantation available to individuals with a limited number of follicles, including those with female-pattern hair loss, scarring alopecia, and hair loss due to burns.” According to Dr. Christiano, such patients gain little benefit from existing hair-loss medications, which tend to slow the rate of hair loss but usually do not stimulate robust new hair growth. “Dermal papilla cells give rise to hair follicles, and the notion of cloning hair follicles using inductive dermal papilla cells has been around for 40 years or so,” said co-study leader Colin Jahoda, Ph.D., professor of stem cell sciences at Durham University, England, and co-director of North East England Stem Cell Institute, who is one of the early founders of the field.
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