Hair Growth on Back
Male-pattern baldness is usually inherited and is thought to be caused by hair follicles being oversensitive
In the new procedure, the cells, which are taken from donor tissue, are first cultured in the lab before being injected into the skin where hair is needed.
The main type of hair loss in both men and women is androgenetic alopecia, also known as male or female-pattern hair loss.
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.
This begins with gradual thinning at the parting line, followed by increasingly widespread hair loss radiating from the top of the head.
However, the female hairline rarely recedes, and it is very uncommon for a woman to become bald.
Male-pattern baldness is usually inherited and is thought to be caused by hair follicles being oversensitive to dihydrotestosterone, which is produced by the male hormone testosterone. As a result, the follicles shrink and eventually stop functioning.
Other possible causes include physical and emotional stress, as well as medications for depression, acne, heart disease, high cholesterol, ulcers, and gout, as well as the Pill.
'Cells, which are taken from donor tissue, are first cultured in the lab before being injected into the skin where hair is needed'
There are no cures for male baldness, although medications can slow hair loss. Minoxidil lotion, for example, is applied to the scalp and can stimulate regrowth after about 12 weeks.
There is also hair transplant surgery, where, under local anaesthetic, a small piece of scalp is removed from an area where there is plenty of hair.
It is then divided into single hairs or tiny groups of hairs, which are then grafted onto areas where there is none - but it is expensive. The new technique shows it is possible to form completely new hair follicles - a major step forward. Previously scientists have successfully used the technique to grow human hairs on the back of mice. Now the first human study is underway in Taiwan with around 400 men and women. Patients who are undergoing cosmetic surgery at the National Taiwan University Hospital are providing samples of dermal papillae 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 site to another.