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Scientists Seek New Ways To Grow Hair On Bald Pates

Look around a crowd, and you'll see that lots of middle-aged men are losing their hair. What is science doing about this? Quite a bit, it turns out, reports AP.

A British company, for example, says five guys are walking // around with hundreds more hairs than they had before, thanks to an early test of what's been called hair cloning. An American outfit hopes to start testing a similar approach next year.

Other scientists are tracking down genes that make some men susceptible to hair loss, and struggling to understand the mysterious biology behind it. For example, how can men lose hair on the top of their heads while their beards and even eyelashes keep going strong?

Black men are far less susceptible, but about a third of 30-year-old white men have signs of what doctors call male-pattern baldness. By the time they're 50, about half of them do. The condition creeps across the head like three tiny armies bent on deforestation: one starting at the back, and two making inroads from the front.

Sure, some men say bald is beautiful. And others can smear on minoxidil (Rogaine) or take Propecia pills, or get hair transplants.

In fact, right now is "the best time in history to be going bald, because there's an awful lot of things that can be done," says Dr. Ken Washenik of the Aderans Research Institute in Philadelphia, which is investigating the "hair cloning" approach.

But the drugs don't help everybody, and not everyone is interested in a transplant. So there's room for new approaches.

To understand the search for new treatments, it helps to know a little about hair and male pattern baldness. (Women can also get hormone-induced baldness like this, but it's not clear if it's really the same condition).

Everybody starts out with a lifetime supply of about 100,000 follicles on the scalp, each primed to produce a single hair shaft. Normally, any given follicle pumps out that shaft for tw
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