London: Scientists may be close to creating a cure for baldness, following a stem cell breakthrough.
Researchers at the Berlin Technical University in Germany have grown the world`s first artificial hair follicles from stem cells.
The follicles were created from animal cells and were somewhat thinner than normal, but the team was optimistic they could grow human hairs from stem cells within a year.
Roland Lauster, who led the study, said within five years millions of hair-loss sufferers could grow new hair from their own stem cells and have it implanted in their bald spots, a newspaper reported.
Lauster told the German newspaper Die Welt that preparations for clinical trials were "already in motion".
Stem cells are the body`s master cells. When manipulated in a lab they can be grown into any tissue in the human body from blood to bone and even whole organs.
Current treatments for baldness include hair plugs where stronger hair follicles from the side and back of the head are transplanted to the bald spots.
However, the treatment takes five to 10 hours and would need to be performed repeatedly to create a natural appearance.
"Since 1950 the number of new chemicals used in cosmetics has risen 500-fold, and so has the need for animals to be experimented upon to ensure they are safe for humans. This could well do away with the need for them to suffer," he said.