Researchers have been able to regrow hair on bald patches by injecting the heads of follicular-challenged volunteers with a solution from their own blood.
The new treatment stimulates new stem cells below the skin which can assist regrowth, say specialists.
Injections of “platelet-rich plasma” (PRP) which have been extracted from the blood, are already used to combat ageing on the face and hands, reported the Sunday Telegraph.
In the latest research by scientists at the International Hair Research Foundation, the University of Brescia in Italy and the Hebrew University Medical Centre in Israel, used 45 volunteers with alopecia areata, affecting 2% of the population.
PRP injection stimulates new stem cells below the skin which can assist hair regrowth
The patients had injections on one half of their head. Some were given the PRP, some traditional steroid cream, while others received a placebo.
Three treatments were given every month. Hair growth was checked by measuring the area where new hairs grew on the bald scalp.
Results showed the plasma injections led to significant hair regrowth in the bald patches, compared with the placebo and the steroid treatment.
Following the publication of the study in the British Journal of Dermatology, the scientists are hoping to develop a cream, so needles won’t need to be used.
Dr. Fabio Rinaldi told the Sunday Telegraph the new treatment could also help those suffering more common hair problems like male-pattern baldness.
He said: “We think it can help to regrow hair on people with androgenic alopecia. We believe it is the best treatment available, apart from surgery.”
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have discovered a biological clue to male baldness, raising the prospect of a treatment to stop or even reverse thinning hair.
In studies of bald men and laboratory mice, US scientists pinpointed a protein that triggers hair loss.
Drugs that target the pathway are already in development, they report in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
The research could lead to a cream to treat baldness.
Most men start to go bald in middle age, with about 80% of men having some hair loss by the age of 70.
The male sex hormone testosterone plays a key role, as do genetic factors. They cause the hair follicles to shrink, eventually becoming so small that they are invisible, leading to the appearance of baldness.
Now, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have analyzed which genes are switched on when men start to go bald.
Researchers found levels of a key protein called prostaglandin D synthase are elevated in the cells of hair follicles located in bald patches on the scalp, but not in hairy areas
Researchers found levels of a key protein called prostaglandin D synthase are elevated in the cells of hair follicles located in bald patches on the scalp, but not in hairy areas.
Mice bred to have high levels of the protein went completely bald, while transplanted human hairs stopped growing when given the protein.
Prof. George Cotsarelis, of the department of dermatology, who led the research, said: “Essentially we showed that prostaglandin protein was elevated in the bald scalp of men and that it inhibited hair growth. So we identified a target for treating male-pattern baldness.
“The next step would be to screen for compounds that affect this receptor and to also find out whether blocking that receptor would reverse balding or just prevent balding – a question that would take a while to figure out.”
The inhibition of hair growth is triggered when the protein binds to a receptor on the cells of hair follicles, said Prof. George Cotsarelis.
Several known drugs that target this pathway have already been identified, he added, including some that are in clinical trials.
The researchers say there is potential for developing a treatment that can be applied to the scalp to prevent baldness and possibly help hair regrow.