London: People having a tough time in office or at home because of hair loss may soon find an end to their daily misery -- scientists may soon be able to grow new hair on balding scalps, avoiding the need for a hair transplant.
Researchers have succeeded in creating new human hair in the laboratory using tiny cells that fuel its growth, Daily Mail reported. The methodology has been used to grow new hair follicles in animals, and is now being tested on humans.
The tiny cells, called dermal papillae, are found at the base of the follicles, below the skin where the hair is anchored. They provide nourishment for the follicles.
In the new method, the cells, taken from donor tissue, are first cultured in the lab before being injected into the skin where hair are needed.
The main type of hair loss in both men and women is androgenetic alopecia, also known as male or female-pattern hair loss.
The first human study is underway in Taiwan with around 400 men and women. Patients, undergoing cosmetic surgery at the National Taiwan University Hospital, are providing samples of dermal papillae cells (tiny cells) from their scalps. These will then be cultured in the lab and implanted into bald patients.
The idea is that this will lead to the growth of new follicles for the first time, rather than transplanting existing hair from one place to another.
The methodology could be suitable for people with a limited number of follicles (a mammalian skin organ that produces hair), including those with female-pattern hair loss, scarring alopecia (condition in which hair are lost from some or all areas of the body, usually from the scalp) and hair loss due to burns.
Male-pattern baldness, which affects around 6.5 million men, usually begins above the temples and can occur at any age; the receding hairline eventually forms a characteristic 'M' shape. The hair at the top of the head also thins, progressing to baldness.
Around a third of women also experience hair loss, with many affected by female-pattern hair loss.