I’ve been asked “When will hair cloning be available?” for as long as I’ve been practicing. It’s truly the holy grail of hair restoration, and it may be here as early as 2028. Hair cloning promises to change the entire industry.
People have been seeking a cure for baldness and hair loss for all of recorded history. And while we currently enjoy major medical surgical in hair advancements with technologies such as ARTAS and the Harris S.A.F.E System for FUE. Both of which are revolutionary developments in hair restoration compared to even a couple of decades ago, but none of them can be called a true cure for baldness. That could change within a decade.
I am currently a consulting medical advisor at HairClone,™ a biotechnology research firmbased in Manchester, England, that is researching an actual cure for genetic hair loss. Cloning is the lab-based production of genetically identical organisms. The concept leapt into the public’s consciousness in the late 1990s when Dolly the sheep was born after being cloned from an adult somatic cell, using the process of nuclear transfer.
In terms of cloning hair, 50-100 follicles are removed from the patient’s head, after a local anesthetic is administered. The dermal papilla cells that help follicle growth are then isolated and removed, to be multiplied in a special culture. Those cells would then be reintroduced into the scalp with a hypodermic needle under local anesthesia. The goal is to stimulate miniaturized vellus hair follicles, and potentially induce the growth of brand-new follicles in thin or balding areas of the scalp.
While hair cloning will undoubtedly be a historic breakthrough in the history of hair restoration, a number of stumbling blocks remain. Among them are the following:
- Currently there is no way to influence or even determine which way the follicles will grow. Each hair has a natural direction that it grows in, and if cloned hairs do not fall into the pattern, a very unnatural look could result.
- The same is true of curl, diameter, coarseness, color and length: to date there is just no way to set parameters around these factors.
- It is unclear if cloning will be a stand-alone procedure, or used in conjunction with a hairline transplant to render a natural appearance.
Despite these and other challenges, hair cloning shows great promise in the quest to finally make baldness a thing of the past.