Researchers say they are very close to unleashing a product that could finally draw the curtain on the dreaded comb-over.
Follica, a U.S.-based firm, claims their proprietary procedure consistently creates new hair follicles in both mice and men, The Scientist reports.
"This discovery sheds light on a novel mechanism to regenerate hair follicles and opens an exciting new avenue to develop treatments for hair loss in humans," The company's Dr. William Ju said in a press release. "Follica has developed a technology platform that is uniquely suited to support clinical translation of these new findings."
It focuses on a slightly strange-sounding process called 'skin-perturbation', in which the top layers of skin on the scalp are peeled back. The cells beneath them apparently revert to a stem-like state. Finally, a topical solution is applied that essentially re-programs those cells to be hair-producers.
Hair? Is that really you, after all these years?
And for Follica, the promise of propping up the male ego and all the societal benefits hair confers, could spell the biggest roll-up-the-rim win of all time. Especially, with the pickings so slim at the moment.
Non-invasive hair-regrowth options basically come down to minoxidil, marketed as Rogaine, and finasteride , which you may know as Propecia. The former is a vasodilator, which purports to prevent follicles from shrinking and choking off hair. Propecia aims to stop testosterone from being converted, and thus weaponized as DHT, which starves hair of vital nutrients.
You've also got the oft-ridiculed toupee option and surgeries which graft hair from other parts of your body.
That's where Follica, having licensed research from the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine, is looking to ride to the rescue.
Tricking, or re-programming, cells for different purposes is hardly new. Scientists have successfully coaxed the body's most flexible cell into producing muscle to mend damaged hearts and even bone.
While researchers at Follica have remained somewhat coy on exactly how the process works, The Scientist reports the procedure has already sailed through both preclinical and clinical trials.