Health Beat

Health Beat: Hair cloning is happening

Health Beat: Hair cloning is happening

SAN DIEGO - Ric Ortega has dealt with hair loss for a while. For him, it's a health concern.

"I'm outside a lot because I work in the construction industry, and I worry about skin cancer on the top of my head," explained Ortega.

Ortega is considering a hair cloning clinical trial with Dr. Kenneth Williams Jr., a hair restoration surgeon with Orange County Hair Restoration in Irvine, California.

Williams is working with HairClone, a British company that believes it will perfect the science of cloning hair.

"The typical candidate would be someone who has had multiple surgeries and can't have any more hair transplantations, but they do have lots of areas of balding," Williams said.

Doctors harvest 50 hair follicles and send them to a cryopreservation tank in England. Surgeons there remove the hair shaft from the bulb, which holds cells that control growth. Then, the cells are multiplied in a special cell culture.

"Then, when the patient is ready, they have the actual transplantation," Williams said. "They would let us know and we'd go through the process of replication, and shortly, those 50 cells will now turn into 1500 cells."

The trial would cost Ortega between $4,000 and $10,000 plus air fare to England, where he'd get his cloned hair. England is the only western country that allows this type of treatment.

Williams said hair cloning is the next biggest frontier in hair science. HairClone hopes to start a small trial in England later this year. The good news is, companies around the world are racing to start hair cloning trials as soon as they can.


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