A previously-announced trial into a potential new method of treating genetic hair loss that is being overseen by the University of Florida has moved forward a notch with the news that it is now recruiting participants.
A research team at the university is seeking a total of eight people with androgenetic alopecia (Male or Female Pattern Hair Loss) to sign up for the trial, which will explore the efficacy and safety of injecting modified body fat into the scalp to see if it encourages new hair to grow.
Futuristic but not new
While the idea sounds futuristic, it is not wholly new, as Stromal Vascular Fraction, as it is known, is a method employed by doctors to rejuvenate damaged tissue. With existing applications in pain relief and the regeneration of cartilage and bone, it is believed by several different organisations – including a Switzerland-headquartered company named Kerastem which is conducting its own clinical trial – that it is a logical fit for men and women with thinning hair.
In all of the tests, body fat is extracted from a patient and is then separated in a lab, with doctors discarding all but the Adipose-derived stromal cells. These are then re-injected into the scalp and, according to the University of Florida team, “may promote hair regeneration by increasing the hair-inducing ability of dermal papillae (DP) cells.”
Hair loss treatment for the hereditary condition Male Pattern Baldness, as well as for the women’s equivalent, Female Pattern Hair Loss, is already a well-developed area of medicine. There are existing, clinically-proven products available, including medications and therapeutic treatments that can be used at home, which are able to tackle the causes of both conditions and help to generate hair growth.
But with hundreds of millions of people around the world affected by genetic hair thinning, the potential market for new drugs is hard for pharmaceutical companies and researchers to ignore. That said, the holy grail in terms of “fixing” hereditary hairloss is probably a single one-off topical or oral cure, or a method that would deliver complete hair loss prevention, as opposed to a hospital visit to have some of your body fat removed and injected into your scalp.
Once the team from Florida has found its eight volunteers, a 2cm x 2cm area on the participants’ scalps will be scrutinised to assess both density and thickness of hair. This will then be re-evaluated after six weeks, three months and six months, at which point the trial will conclude.
It appears that the participants will each be subject to just one single injection of adipose-derived SVF cells. While finding people with androgenetic alopecia should not pose a problem, a large number of exclusion criteria may make recruitment less straightforward. People are not eligible to take part, for example, if they are pregnant, if they smoke, are allergic to a number of medications or are undergoing any other hair-related treatments.
Interestingly, one exclusion factor is an allergy to tattoo ink – meaning that is it highly likely that subjects must agree to a small tattooed dot on their head to mark the test site, even though this is not mentioned elsewhere in the University of Florida’s clinicaltrails.gov registration.
Whilst there are a number of trials into exciting new potential treatments, for men and women noticing signs of hair loss now, this may provide little comfort. New hair loss treatments, like any medications, can take many years to develop and to pass the crucial tests needed to confirm that they not only work, but are also safe to use. For anyone concerned that they are shedding more hair than normal or developing a receding hairline, the best advice is always to have a professional assess you. This way you can be confident in the condition you are dealing with and learn about the recommended treatment options – available now – for your personal situation, based around your medical profile, level and pattern of thinning.
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.