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Scientists Seek New Ways To Grow Hair On Bald Pates

of a man's head that resist balding, put them in a lab dish and expand their numbers by thousands of times. Then inject these new cells back into the scalp, where they'll work with skin cells to form new follicles. So, unlike transplants, the guy actually ends up with more hairs than he started with.

The company has recently tested this on seven men with thinning hair due to male pattern baldness, and five of them gained hair, says Intercytex chief scientific officer Paul Kemp. This was just an initial study to look for side effects like inflammation, Kemp says, and no such problems appeared.

Not that this restored a full head of hair. The treated areas were just the size of a quarter, and covered places that already had hair, rather than bald spots.

"We didn't want to create these weird and wonderful patterns on their head," Kemp said. "It's such a small area in the hairy area anyway, I would be surprised if they really knew any difference."

Eventually, if further studies go well, the technique could allow hair transplant surgeons to cover more of a bald head, Kemp said. The next round of human research is expected to start next summer.

Someday, men might avoid transplants altogether, just getting periodic shots of their own cells to counterbalance their hair loss. "You would be going thin, and you'd be maintained," Kemp said.

"Sometime in the future, I think baldness will be a choice rather than something you have to suffer," said Kemp. "Any bald people will have chosen to be bald."

Within five years, Kemp says, his company may have a commercial product.

Washenik, of the Philadelphia-based Aderans institute, said his group's efforts in hair cloning have shown promise so far in mice. He hopes studies in people can begin next year.

He said follicles that grow from the transplanted cells should resist balding, because they come from a part of the head that bald
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