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Cloning could be used to help hair loss sufferers in the future, a leading baldness specialist predicts.
Being able to copy hairs would be the "holy grail" for hair loss treatment according to Nicole Rogers, a dermatologist, hair transplant surgeon and clinical professor at Tulane University in New Orleans.
Rogers says single hairs could be copied to fill out an entire head. "It would be great if we could harvest a single hair from the back (of the head) and create thousands of copycat hairs from that."
But Rogers believes despite a significant amount of research happening in this area, "it's still going to be a while before it is ready for Food and Drug Administration approval."
As a hair transplant surgeon, Rogers says she has found the approved baldness medication Propecia (finasteride) to be a "wonderful compliment" to the procedure. "Finasteride can even reduce the number of procedures that a patient needs".
Propecia finasteride is the only approved medication for baldness. It works by reducing the amount of DHT (a hormone that causes baldness) in the body. This both stems the onset of baldness and can stimulate new hair growth.
Half of men over the age of 50 go bald due to male pattern baldness. Baldness also occurs in younger men. Around two thirds of men aged 30 are experiencing some degree of baldness. It is this age group who are most likely to feel insecure and uncomfortable about their hair loss, so treatments like Propecia may be especially useful.
While the kind of hair transplantation offered by Rogers and fellow specialists can have positive results, the procedure is often expensive. Cloning may be useful in the future but scientists will have to fine tune the technique to make sure hair grows evenly, and that no problems such as skin cancer occur.