Isn’t it amazing the things that technology can do now in the twenty-first century? For instance, it would have been hard to predict a few decades ago that there would be such a thing as self-driving cars. It seems about time that medical technology can be of assistance in the hair loss field. Up until now, hair transplants were the only signs of real med tech being used to create a head of hair. However, the potential to use stem cells for hair regrowth and creating new hair follicles is definitely a possibility that is being explored for the near future. Can stem cell research actually figure out how to cure baldness?
What Exactly Are Stem Cells?
Think of stem cells as the superhero of all cells. They have a unique power that all other cells just do not have. For instance, stem cells have the special ability to evolve into any other type of cell in your body. They can change into muscle cells, brain cells, skin cells, and so on. You may have heard about using stem cells for treating spinal cord problems as the stem cells can be turned into nerve cells and actually provide hope to those people that are currently paralyzed and relegated to a wheelchair.
It’s amazing to think how stem cells can mature into bone, skin, organs, and, yes, even hair. The possibilities are endless for using stem cells to cure whatever ails you. A doctor can take these stem cells and replace the diseased cells in your body. On paper, it seems like stem cells can cure just about anything.
Where Do Stem Cells Come From?
There are only a couple of sources available for acquiring stem cells. Embryonic stem cells can be taken from embryos that are only three to five days old. (Of course, as you know, embryos develop after a sperm and egg match up together and are basically the first step of a developing baby.) These stem cells keep on multiplying in the embryo as they form the baby’s organs, skin, bones, and other tissue.
Adult stem cells can be attained through bone marrow, fat, and a few other adult tissues. However, adult stem cells are thought to be limited in what they can do. For instance, most believe that adult stem cells can only be used to create other cells similar to where the stem cells were retrieved. Still, there is promising research emerging that leads people to believe that adult stem cells may be able to evolve just like the embryonic stem cells through genetic reprogramming.
Finally, the third place to find specialized stem cells that can evolve is in the umbilical cord blood and amniotic fluid. You may have heard about more and more people freezing their baby’s umbilical cord. This is done to save the stem cells just in case they are ever needed for the health of the child.
How Can They Be Used to Create New Hair Growth?
While thinking about how stem cells may have the ability to save lives, it might seem a bit silly to consider how they can produce new hair on top of your head. But the hair-loss industry is a multi-billion dollar business. If stem cells can provide men and women with the thick hair they want, people won’t just be knocking on the door of their nearest doctor’s office. They will be knocking the door down.
Stem cells can be used to create new hair, but so far, the research is still in the developmental stage. Recently, at the International Society for Stem Cell Research, Dr. Alexey Terskikh presented research that showed he could grow hair on mice by developing stem cell technology. The stem cells he acquired for his experiment were the adult cells that were genetically reprogrammed, so there was no need for embryonic stem cells. The focus was on dermal papilla cells. These cells are located inside the hair follicle and they can control how fast the hair grows and the overall thickness. How would you like to have these in every hair follicle on your head? You could essentially have all your follicles programmed to grow hair as fast as possible and with the thickness you are searching for.
It Would Be a Costly Procedure
Instead of using the stem cells to reprogram your follicles, which would be extremely expensive, they can be used to duplicate your current hair follicles and mass produce them in the thousands. Then these brand new follicles would be transplanted on to your scalp. It is basically like a hair transplant, but you would have an unlimited supply of donor hair. The good news is that this stem cell hair regrowth procedure could be available to the public within a year or two. While the cost has not been set for such a procedure, most believe that it would be somewhere between $10,000 and $30,000 depending on how much hair you would need transplanted.
Is It Possible to Create a Whole New Scalp of Hair?
Before you start cutting pictures out of magazines of the new hairstyles you want to try out, it would be best to adjust your expectations at this stage. While a whole new scalp of hair could be possible with the stem cell hair transplant, there is not much research in this field yet to show that the hair would keep on growing forever. It will be interesting to see how stem cells eventually are used to treat hair loss. After all, there may be no need for surgery or transplants when it is all figured out.
Create a Good Defense Against Hair Loss While You Wait
Instead of just twiddling your thumbs and waiting for technology to advance further to help you with your thinning hair, you could try to create a solid defense against your current hair loss so you have more to work with when stem cells are more of a reality in the future. There are inexpensive supplements available that could keep the hair on your head instead of on your bathroom counter.