Questions About Stem Cell Treatments, Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP), ACell, Hair Duplication (Autocloning) and Future Hair Loss Treatments
This question comes from an inquisitive Hair Loss Q & A blog reader:
With the new information coming from Costeralis research study on progenitor cells it would seem like more doctors should be looking into potential treatments or cures using stem cells.
Why haven’t more doctors been trying to inject stem cells of different types into the scalp? Is Acell or Platelet Rich Plasma PRP the answer? What about trying to take active stem/progenitor cells from bone marrow? What do you think?
First, and foremost, I wanted to clarify Dr. Costeralis’ findings during the study on progenitor cells in the scalp:
What Costeralis and his team found, and many wondered about for quite some time, is that contrary to popular belief, balding scalp contains just as many progenitor or follicle stem cells as non-balding scalp. The crucial difference is that the progenitor cells in the balding scalp are “switched off,” and the pathway to recurrent follicle production is blocked. Knowing that these follicles are simply “off” and not dead means there is hope to study ways to turn the cells back on and restart the follicle growth cycle.
As far as physicians/scientists looking into the idea of using stem cell treatments, it’s actually a big “arms race” at the moment (in my opinion) and various researchers, physicians, and biotech companies are looking into ways to understand and utilize stem cell hair restoration therapies.
Although it could yield very impressive results in the future, the best attitude, in my opinion, is remaining optimistic, but cautiously optimistic toward these future therapies. What I mean by this is that I wouldn’t forgo proven hair restoration treatments today in the hopes of a cellular based “cure” in the next “5 to 10 years.”
Some examples of companies and physicians trying stem cell based injection therapy now include the Histogen “Hair Stimulating Complex,” the QR 678 injections currently offered in India and several others working toward developing and using these stem cell based treatments. These early examples have ranged, in my opinion, from showing some results (though quite limited) to being completely unsubstantiated, and I personally would not recommend any patient undergo these treatments until they are far more proven and reviewed by drug administration agencies.
A Cell uses a slightly different approach where a follicle is “plucked” from the back of the scalp, which leaves the bottom/regenerative piece of the follicle in the universal donor area, but removes the top/central part of the follicle containing the current hair strand. The central part of the follicle is then treated with the A Cell therapy and implanted in the balding areas.
In theory, the ACell serum induces the body to recreate the bottom/regenerative part of the stem cell around the central portion and leaves the patient with an untapped [tag]donor supply and a fully functional follicle in the front of the hair. In my opinion, ACell has probably shown the most research and clinical trial work thus far (Histogen has done its fair share too), and with several reputable hair restoration surgeons currently doing ACell trials, we should know within a few years how well this hair duplication (formerly known as “autocloning”) feature works.
PRP (or platelet rich plasma) isn’t really a stem cell treatment, but instead applies a well established would healing technique to the scalp in the hope that it will regenerate hair. Several physicians offer this procedure and state, anecdotally, that it works well for patients. However, more research is likely necessary, but it could prove useful, especially as an adjunct therapy.
I’m not a microbiologist by any means, but I’m uncertain if the progenitor cells in the bone marrow (which are primarily used for creating different types of blood cells) would induce into follicle stem cells if placed in the scalp. However, if it is a solid idea, you can rest assured that a researcher along the way will likely catch on and test the theory, so who knows?
Blake Bloxham – formerly “Future_HT_Doc”
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