Hi Dr Rassman,
I think your readers will be interested in the following patent. This was filed by Intercytex on September 27, 2007. I would like your comments on this invention, as well as their claims that they have produced “proto-hairs” in vitro, which may then be implanted into the scalp.
Here is an excerpt:
“We have for the first time produced such proto-hairs in vitro. A proto-hair may be considered as a part-formed follicle. It can be identified and isolated at a stage of development between the dermal papilla cell stage and the fully formed follicle stage. A proto-hair has a structure which develops from the dermal papilla cell but is no longer a dermal papilla cell as such. The structure of the proto-hair is also not that of a follicle, but it can be seen to have elements of follicle-like structure. A proto-hair is capable of further development. It can develop into a mature hair follicle in a suitable in vitro culture. It can also develop into a mature hair follicle if implanted into a recipient : this means that an in vitro produced proto-hair can subsequently produce a mature hair follicle in vivo.”
At the recent International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS) meeting, a paper was presented by Intercytex and it discussed the proto-hairs. This is an exciting development, but there is still a long way from producing these hair precursors to a clinically, reproducible process for creating hair where none existed. There have been other breakthroughs in the past that produced hair from stem cells, but these have failed to produce mature hair organs. We must be patient and see what comes down the pike.