Scientists have developed a new method that helps grow new hair on the scalp.Tomás Fano/Flickr

Scientists have developed a new method that helps grow new hair on the scalp.

Hair loss is one of the major sources of concerns among both men and women. Various types of treatments including pills (finasteride), lotions (minoxidil), steroids (corticosteroid injections), ointments (topical corticosteroids), immunotherapy, ultraviolet light therapy, hair loss surgery (hair transplant, scalp reduction, artificial hair implantation) are some of the common methods available to treat hair loss.

The new hair restoration method is completely different from hair transplantation, the usual procedure of redistributing hair from one part of the scalp to another and successfully treats hair loss in women and baldness in men.

"About 90 percent of women with hair loss are not strong candidates for hair transplantation surgery because of insufficient donor hair," co-study leader Dr. Angela M. Christiano, the Richard and Mildred Rhodebeck Professor of Dermatology and professor of genetics & development, said in a news release. "This method offers the possibility of inducing large numbers of hair follicles or rejuvenating existing hair follicles, starting with cells grown from just a few hundred donor hairs. It could make hair transplantation available to individuals with a limited number of follicles, including those with female-pattern hair loss, scarring alopecia, and hair loss due to burns."

Efforts to grow new hair from dermal papillae, the large base of the hair follicle, have been going on from a long time. However, the experiments never succeeded as the dermal papilla cells always produced skin cells instead of hair follicles.

In the new study, the scientists conducted experiments on rodent hair. They noticed that rodent hair was easily transplantable as their dermal papillae aggregate or form clumps in the tissue culture. Using this information, they harvested dermal papillae from seven human donors and cloned the cells in tissue culture. Later, they transplanted the cultured papillae into human skin grafted onto the backs of mice. After one month, new hair grew in five experimental cases. Through DNA tests, researchers re-confirmed the source of the hair as human.

The findings of the study have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Watch Dr. Angela M. Christiano explainining how they created new hair in human skin: