According to the American Academy of Dermatology, hereditary hair loss affects 80 million men and women in the United States alone. Consumers worldwide spend literally billions of dollars annually to address the problem of hair loss. And yet none of the solutions at hand – from growth pills to transplant procedures to wigs – has proved fully satisfying. There is an unmet need.
Past solutions have reached their limit: The transplantation of hair "plugs," or small clusters of 20 hairs, create a bristle-brush effect on many clients. Now scientists can harvest and restore as few as two hairs at a time, delivering a more natural look. Yet every solution conceived thus far has been constrained by a single problem: a finite number of hairs. The only source of hair for the crown is hair at the neckline, almost never enough to replace the lost hair on the topmost part of the head.
Yet as biotechnology advances, interest has concentrated around the use of cell multiplication – a pioneering treatment in which an individual's hairs can be multiplied, providing an unlimited number of hair-producing cells to reimplant in the scalp. Aderans Research Institute (ARI) is the leading research firm in this field, and is currently conducting a promising Phase 2 study testing its proprietary hair multiplication process. Experts suggest that a marketable solution is less than a decade away.
Part of the reason the science of hair regeneration is such a popular field is that the implications of its success extend far beyond curing baldness. The molecular units that tell a follicular unit to grow are from the same family of molecules that tell human organs and limbs to grow. Decoding the secrets of hair regeneration may unlock the science of organ regeneration. A breakthrough of this magnitude will place ARI on the cusp of revolution in the field of cell and tissue engineering.