If you are dealing with hair loss and looking for a permanent solution, a hair transplant is the only option available right now. The procedure involves removing healthy hair follicles from the back or side of the head and transplanting them to balding or thinning areas of the scalp.
Quite often, men are able and willing to bear the hefty cost of this procedure but are declared unsuitable candidates for hair transplants because they don’t have sufficient donor hair.
Hair cloning and multiplication would solve this problem. It would provide an unlimited supply of healthy donor hair, therefore making all men, even those with hardly any hair left, suitable candidates for hair transplants.
However, this innovative idea is yet to be put into practice. After decades of research conducted by reputable companies and institutions, they are yet to solve the puzzle. It remains an exciting but elusive possibility.
Read on to find out what you need to know about hair cloning.
The Concept behind Hair Cloning
The fundamental idea behind hair cloning and multiplication is that healthy hair or follicle cells can be extracted from an individual and multiplied using various methods. The process would produce numerous cells which can then be transplanted on bald areas of the scalp.
Difference between hair cloning and hair multiplication
With the concept being relatively new in the industry, it is no surprise that the terms ‘hair cloning’ and ‘hair multiplication’ are often used interchangeably; despite the fact that there are key differences between them.
In hair cloning, a hair follicle is removed and cloned in vitro using a growth medium that serves to encourage multiplication.
Hair multiplication, on the other hand, involves removing a hair follicle and cutting it into multiple pieces. These would then be transplanted onto a balding patient’s scalp. The hope is that germinative stem cells still attached at the base of the hair will help generate a new follicle through which new hair would grow.
Ongoing Research Journey
Cloning and multiplication of hair have, over the last few years, become one of the most promising areas of research where hair restoration is concerned.
Several companies and institutions have made significant strides and faced different challenges along the way. These include:
Intercytex and HairClone
Intercytex was among the first companies which began experimenting with hair cloning. They tried cloning hair follicles from stem cells extracted from the back of patients’ necks. Results from phase II trials showed promising results. However, after phase III trials the company declared that their attempts had failed and discontinued research, presumably due to financial challenges.
Intercytex’s former CEO moved on to a company called HairClone which later launched the world’s first hair follicle bank. They argue that since the quality of hair follicles reduces with age, young men can store their hair follicles and utilize them in the future. In which time the technology will have matured.
RepliCel Life Sciences has had one of the most active hair cloning research programs in the recent past. They teamed up with Shiseido, a Japanese company to promote their unique hair multiplication method known as RCH-01.
It uses a part of the hair follicle which contains dermal sheath cup cells. These are removed from the back of a patient’s head, cultivated in huge numbers, and then transplanted onto a balding head.
Results published in 2020 showed disappointing results as men who took part in the study had meager hair regrowth. Even less than what is seen in men taking Minoxidil.
What Next for Hair Cloning Technology?
The short answer is… wait. Hair cloning for transplants is indeed a great concept but it is a long way off from becoming a reality available in the market.
We have often seen very promising information from research companies which have raised excitement among hair restoration experts, only to be followed by loud silence. In other instances, such as the Shisedo case, promising developments yielded meager results far below expectation.
However, with such zeal in continuing research, there is hope for a breakthrough soon.
Cost and efficacy questions
What we can be sure of is that hair transplant procedures using cloned hair will cost a lot more than even the most expensive FUT hair transplants. It definitely won’t be a budget hair restoration option.
Even when hair cloning and transplantation are eventually achieved, there will still be questions about its efficacy in the long term. How long will cloned and transplanted hairs live? Will men need to get regular touch-ups to maintain the initial look?
In the Meantime
As we wait for research towards making hair cloning a reality to take its course, there is another fascinating technology to consider. And yes, it is available right now.
HASCI hair transplant
A PL-FUT hair transplant, also known as HASCI transplant is a development from the previously most advanced FUT hair transplant method.
In FUT transplants, surgeons extract healthy hair follicles from the back of the head and transplant them on balding or thinning areas.
The HASCI method is different from the FUT one in that in the HASCI technique, the surgeon removes only part of each follicle and leaves the rest in place. This way the extracted part of the follicle is planted onto the balding area while the rest is allowed to regenerate and grow new hair.
With this method, one can have multiple hair transplant procedures with donor hair being drawn from the same area each time. It also ensures an overall increase in the total number of healthy follicles on the patient’s head, which in turn increases overall hair quality.
Although we are still a long way from making hair cloning and multiplication a reality, industry experts have named it as the top technology to watch in the near future.
It would no doubt, be a game-changer for hair restoration, and hopefully make hair loss a much less distressing experience for men all over the world.