We have all heard of hair cloning; but just how far along is the actual technology? How can it be used to improve the quality of life of balding persons and how safe and effective is it when used for hair transplantation techniques? In this short review, we would be attempting to shed light on the answers to these questions, and perhaps explore a bit more.
When did hair cloning come about?
It was in the year 1990 when a British scientist by the name of Dr. Jahoda took sheath cells from his own skin and transplanted them to his wife’s own skin. The result of the transplantation was quite interesting, because after the transplantation of the dermal sheath cells, hair began to grow on his wife’s arm. During genomic exploration, it was found that the hairs on this wife’s arm contained both Dr. Jahoda’s DNA and his Dr. Jahoda’s wife’s DNA.
Future application of Jahoda’s work
Dr. Jahoda’s small clinical procedure was not a full-blown hair cloning procedure. At least, his experiment showed two interesting highlights that can be of future application to hair cloning. First, Dr. Jahoda’s experiment showed that it’s possible for dermal sheath cells are somewhat immune-privileged. This means they are not rejected by other skins during the transplantation procedure. Autoimmune rejection of dermal sheath cells may have resulted in severe reactions.
The second highlight of Dr. Jahoda’s work is that the dermal sheath cells had acted as inducing agents that encouraged the growth of new hairs. This is quite useful, because surgeons would not have to harvest the whole hair follicle to be able to encourage new hair growth. Hair surgeons simply have to isolate the dermal sheathe cells and find a way to transfer them to the bald areas of the patient.
Basic issues with the isolation of dermal sheath cells
The first problem with Dr. Jahoda’s approach is the nature of the dermal sheath cells themselves. The said skin cells are very difficult to isolate and very difficult to harvest in large numbers. The culturing process is also difficult, and has to be backed up by a rigorous procedure that was not provided by Dr. Jahoda’s work.
Here’s another funny yet serious problem if the dermal sheath cells had been successfully transferred; the hairs have to grow outward instead of inward. There’s a probability that the hair cells would grow into the skin tissue rather than outward, as expected. Another important issue is the longevity of the hairs that would eventually grow on the scalp. There’s no proof yet that the new hair follicles would renew their reproducible phase; the hairs might die out after the first cycle and never return.
In contrast with normal hair follicles on your scalp that enters reproducible cycles lasting from between 2 years to 6 years, newly transplanted dermal sheath cells might show some promise then die abruptly. Cell division is also a problem; what if the new hair cells cease from reproducing themselves and become dormant, all of a sudden? The patient would be left with a large medical bill and no hair.
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