Treatment hope for bald11th October 2006
The government has backed a new hair transplant treatment which may enable bald people to grow back their own hair.
UK biotechnology firm Intercytex is working on a robot to grow hair follicle cells for use in treating baldness and has tested a method of removing hair follicles from the back of the neck, multiplying them and reimplanting the cells. The Department of Trade and Industry awarded £1.85m to continue their research through their technology programme.
The treatment may bring hope to the many sufferers of male pattern baldness and alopecia who often suffer real trauma as a result of their hair loss. The treatment was initially tested on seven men with male pattern baldness, five of whom grew hair, and is now being tested on a further 20.
During a 30-minute operation, hair follicles are taken from the back of the neck, then grown in culture until they number in the thousands, before being injected under the skin where the hair needs to grow back.
The company, which is based in Cambridge and Manchester, won funding for the project from the Department of Trade and Industry's Technology Programme. Using existing robotic technology which is used for storing and growing cells, the research team hope to develop a commercial scale production of hair follicles, called dermal papilla cells.
The news could provide the answer for millions of men affected by male pattern baldness, reacting to the male hormone dihydrotestosterone, which causes follicles to gradually disappear. They would also be testing the method in cases of alopecia but it will be three years before the treatment will be available.
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