(LONDON) — Researchers from Columbia University Medical Center and University of Durham in England recently announced an experiment they said could inch humanity one step closer to a cure for the receding hairline.
Coaxing new hair growth in humans can be tricky. Methods that work in animal studies often produce barren patches of skin when tried on people.
Lead researcher Dr. Angela Christiano said her team plucked a few hairs from the heads of seven subjects, cultured them in a dish, then turned them over so they would clump together in “3-D spheroids” to “maintain their hair identity.” The team then grafted the clumps of hair onto mice. In five of the cases, the clumps kick-started the cell’s ability to grow hair.
Christiano said this was the first time scientists had been able to cultivate hair entirely from human cells.
If the method makes it to clinical trials, Christiano said she believes it could transform hair-loss treatments.
But the study was small, and researchers haven’t yet perfected the crucial step of repatriating hair back onto the human scalp.
By the age of 35, two-thirds of American men experience some degree of measurable hair loss, and by the age of 50, approximately 85 percent have significantly thinning hair, according to the American Hair Loss Association.
There are a few hair restoration treatments currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but none have exactly hit home runs.
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