The concept of cloning has been around for a long time and when the very first cloned sheep Dolly survived successfully, the cheer and celebration was worldwide. The same method then progressed to other domains as well and today, there are major developments in the field of hair cloning.
The first and the most obvious question would be what is hair cloning? Hair cloning is a treatment in which the hair follicles from a person’s head are harvested and these are then multiplied, in a controlled environment, outside the body. Once the follicles have germinated properly, they are re-implanted into the scalp, and in most cases, these hair follicles grow to full length.
However, there are a lot of people who confuse the terms hair cloning and hair multiplication. Hair cloning is a term that is used to describe the spectrum of processes, in which hair growth is manipulated outside the body. Here is how hair multiplication differs from hair cloning.
The donor hair follicles are harvested from the scalp and then influenced in a controlled environment. This is done to increase the amount of hair present, and then the entire set of hair is re-implanted on the scalp. In order to complete this process, the hair follicles can either be cut or obtained via a transection or by plucking. The intent is that the follicles are able to regenerate on their own and hence lead to thicker and more abundant hair.
Hair multiplication using hair that has been plucked is favoured because this is perhaps the easiest way to obtain the germinative cells, without any invasive surgical methods being employed. In addition, the hair shaft of these plucked hair have a scaffold that is pre-prepared and it becomes much easier to align the cells. However, there is only one drawback – there are normally lesser cells than required, when the hair is obtained via plucking.
There have been studies and tests, wherein, hair has been taken from the beard and then implanted on the scalp, where there is balding. The implanted hair should ideally be able to regenerate new hair follicles, hence leading to better hair growth, mainly because the stem cells are still attached to the follicle.
The most recent studies have shown that if an extra-cellular matrix (ECM) is added, the process of hair growth could be improved and the hair that had been plucked would have a greater chance of survival. The problem here is that with the ECM method, there are never enough hair with the adequate germinative cells, which means that out of all the hair that have been plucked, only a few make the cut!
Clinical trials and studies are being conducted every single and hopefully, in the days to come, hair cloning will become a sought after process, just like FUE and FUT are today!