In 2013 there have been many discussions in the scientific community regarding the treatment of baldness. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania believe that they have found a method that allows for the regeneration of hair follicles using growth factor that will harness the power usually used to repair skin that has been damaged to create skin that is capable of growing hair in areas that were previously bald. This growth factor, known as fgf9 has been found to double the number of hair follicles present in areas of skin on mice when it is expressed in the cells. It is believed that these effects could be mimicked on human skin to help to eliminate baldness.
How Fgf9 and Growth Factor Works
Fgf9 is expressed in specialized T-cells that are used by the immune system to repair damage when the skin is injured. Humans have very low amounts of T-cells that are expressed naturally which can cause areas of skin that have been damaged to heal without hair follicles. It is believed that applying this growth factor to human skin could improve the presence of hairs to reverse the effects of baldness. Over time, these treatments could grow hair anywhere a person wanted it, on chests, the tops of head or other areas. Because these growth factors are naturally present in the body, this treatment would, at least in theory, not cause any negative side effects for those that would undergo this treatment.
The key to this expression is that these cells are part of the immune system and appear to help address skin that has been damaged. This means that a slight amount of damage would need to befall the skin cells that a person would like to start growing hair. Many processes including chemical peels that are already used as part of a plastic surgery regimen could be used to create the reaction necessary to get these cells to react as desired. A treatment could then be applied that would present the body with further doses of fgf9 to increase the reaction of the body that would case this area to start developing hair follicles.
Issues that Must be Addressed with Growth Factor and Fgf9
Before full treatments of growth factor can be used to eliminate male pattern baldness, additional testing on humans must be performed to ensure that this treatment does not cause side effects that are not currently anticipated. This would include any side effects for topical treatments that would be necessary to stimulate the presence of fgf9 in the desired cells. As research progresses, more information about the likelihood of these concerns and how to properly manage them will become more readily available.
Because cells would need to be damaged to ensure that new follicles will be developed in the areas where the patient would like increased hair growth, it will be necessary to find a way to trigger this reaction without damaging existing, healthy follicles that are present in the area where the treatment will be applied. Ongoing research will better determine how to avoid these problems.