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Baldness: New research could lead to cure

It's a problem that plagues millions. But researchers say there could be a breakthrough for people suffering from baldness.
October 22, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
It's a problem that plagues millions of men and women and has no cure. But soon, researchers say there could be a breakthrough for people suffering from baldness.

For many, it starts young. By 35, two-thirds of American men will experience some degree of hair loss and it gets worse with age. Now, there's an exciting follicular find.

"This is the first time we've been able to use human cells into human skin to induce new hair follicles," said Dr. Angela Christiano, who works at Columbia University Medical Center.

Christiano teamed with researchers from Durham University in Britain. The scientists were able to grow new hair that lasted at least six weeks on human skin grafted on to the backs of mice. Current treatments can slow hair loss or move hair from one area to another, but generally don't stimulate new hair growth.

Doctors say the research could lead to breakthroughs in other areas besides baldness.

"What they've done here is they've figured out how one of our types of cells operates. And the more we learn about that, it leads to treatments for all kinds of different things. Scientifically, this is a really big advance," said Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News chief health and medical editor.

The research could eventually benefit men in early stages of baldness, as well as women who have a limited number of hair follicles.

"It should become sort of more universally available and applicable to all types of hair loss in women and men," said Christiano.

There are still many technical issues that need to be worked out before an actual treatment is available, such as how to control the color and texture of the hair and at what angle it grows.

Experts say human clinical trials are still a few years away. But besides treating male pattern baldness, researchers say this could have a huge impact on the millions of women who are dealing with thinning hair or alopecia.


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