CURE FOR BALDNESS? Researchers use cells in hair grafts - KMSP-TV

CURE FOR BALDNESS? Researchers use cells in hair grafts

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Many men dread the thought of going bald, and many have made a pretty penny promoting a supposed cure in the past -- but this time, researchers at Columbia University really think they're on to something.

Like most research, the research involved rats -- but the results are bringing hope to follicle-challenged humans.

The researchers took cells from healthy human hair and implanted it in human skin that was grafted onto the rats. Human hair began to grow -- and that hair genetically matched the donors.

Although the research is still in its early stages, the results are exciting to those who get a little touchy about their exposed scalps.

Dr. Ron Shapiro literally wrote the book on hair transplants.

"It's called the Bible," he joked.

Current hair transplant techniques involve taking hair from the back of a patient's head and planting it back at the front -- but not everyone has enough hair left to transplant or a couple thousand to spend.

The search for an alternative led researchers to try cloning hair in a lab to make a personal sod farm or sorts, but that didn't work. Yet, as time went on, they realized that stem cells, if treated properly, will lead to new hair after they are injected into skin.

But those who are balding shouldn't start looking for a place to sign up just yet. The research is still in its early stages, meaning it'll be at least 5 years before the process is available. Even then, it may not be able to grow enough hair to replace transplants.

The discovery does hold hope for burn patients as well, since grafted skin often does not grow hair on its own.

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