A Moment of Science

Hair Multiplication

It’s happened. You can no longer say that your hair is simply thinning. You’re balding. You’re not bald, mind you, but you can no longer hide the fact that you possess a bald spot. A rather large spot. A crop circle.

Despite knowing better, you tried the comb over. Schoolchildren laughed at you. You dished out money for a hair transplant, which helped, yes, but not enough. The transplanted hair is sparse, not the plentiful crop of hair you long for.

You tried various medicines that you applied to your scalp, but those too were disappointing. There’s a pill called propecia, but it includes side effects like loss of libido, and you’re not that desperate yet.

You ask why we can send a person to the moon but not cure baldness?

Well in fact, research into the biology of hair is a very active area in dermatologic research, and some scientists think there may be a “cure” for baldness on the horizon in just a few years. The technique is called hair multiplication.

Hair follicles contain stem cells that can regenerate new hair follicles if they receive the right chemical signals. Researchers have succeeded in harvesting these healthy follicle stem cells and making them multiply in the lab. The idea is to transplant the new hair follicles back into the scalp, so that they can produce new hair. What’s more, some of these hair follicle stem cells emit chemical signals that incite nearby inactive hair follicles to regenerate and start producing hair again.

Your dreams of having a full head of hair may soon be realized.

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