Cryogenic preservation may seem like the stuff of sci-fi movies but it is increasingly becoming a modern-day reality - and one that may help with preventing baldness in the future.
On 1st August 2019 it was announced by UK start-up HairClone that men and women aged 18 years and over are now able to store their hair follicles in newly Human Tissue Authority-approved cryopreservation follicle banks.
This involves up to 50 follicular units from each individual being cryogenically presevered and stored at -150C in dedicated centres, ready for withdrawal and implantation to address any hair loss they may develop in the future.
In a news update published on its website, the biotechnology company announced:
"HairClone, working with an established and licensed UK tissue bank, have received regulatory approval to begin follicle cryopreservation and banking. HairClone’s Clinical Partners and Banking Associates will be established procurement centres... Hairs like any other structure of the body ages and cryopreservation and storage at -150C at as early an age as possible “stops the clock”."
By preserving hairs in this way whilst patients hair is in good condition, the aim is that, should they start to develop Male Pattern Baldness or Female Pattern Hair Loss later in life, they could then 'withdraw' their cryopreserved hair deposits.
HairClone aims to use a hair replication technique - where multiple hair follicles are produced from a single follicle or a patient's stem cells - on these donor hairs. This could then provide a supply of hair for future use, providing a type of 'hair insurance' against going bald.
These donor follicles are transferred to the areas of thinning hair via a standard hair transplant procedure. This involves implanting the preserved donor follicles into tiny incisions in the scalp, where needed.
Whilst the ideas and clinical testing have been investigated, the full procedure, from harvesting donor hairs and cryopreserving them, to replicating the relevant cells and replanting follicles into a patient, has not yet been carried out.
Now the relevant government agency has given its authorisation to the storage of hair follicles for this purpose, this is likely to happen sooner rather than later.
"Now that the licence is in place we're ready to bank hair for patients. Consultations can begin in earnest," says HairClone founder and leading UK hair transplant surgeon, Dr. Bessam Farjo. "We are contacted every day by people concerned about hair loss, and who are asking when the banking system will be ready."
So, how much will HairClone cost? At present the price list states the initial process of harvesting hair follicles and cryopreserving them will be £2,500, with £100 per year storage costs. Additional costs for future implantation are not yet available but will likely be determined by the number of follicles involved, as with current hair restoration surgeries.
What the long-term effects of this type of procedure would be and whether more than one surgery may be necessary remain to be seen. However, it is certainly an exciting innovation and one we look forward to following, though whether the process will replace current clinically-proven, MHRA-licensed and FDA-approved hair loss treatments is doubtful - at least for now.
The Belgravia Centre is a world-renowned group of a hair loss clinic in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation from anywhere in the world for home-use treatment.
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