Drs. Nilofer, Bessem Farjo and Paul Kemp wrote an article for the Hair Transplant Forum in this past issue discussing an innovative approach to hair “cloning”. For years (as early as 1991) the anticipation of breakthroughs in hair cloning has been on the horizon, ‘always within the next 5 years’. But every half decade, another 5 years went by and still the promise continued that hair cloning would be available ‘within the next 5 years’. My usual comment was that when the actual breakthrough would become available by scientists and researchers, the FDA process would add another 10-15 years of testing required to bring hair cloning to the commercial marketplace. Relevant to this writing, you should know that doctors have certain powers with regard to administering patient care. They can formulate drug (without FDA approval) under their medical license and many doctors have done just this, coming up with treatments for hair loss with medications that may or may not work. The FDA has no overview of their activities, only the licensing agencies by the governments that license these doctor. But moving into the hair cloning area was tricky. Some doctors have been supplying hair stem cells, most of them scammers who were ripping off their patients for many $$. Some have even done this on a large scale.
Then Drs. Nilofer, Bessem Farjo and Paul Kemp came up with a very cleaver approach that would bypass the FDA once breakthroughs were available. They would ‘Bank’ a patient’s own hair just like eggs from ovaries or sperm is banked. With these banked hair cells, once a breakthrough was made, they could use these Banked hair cells as a source for hair replication, cloning or any other similar breakthrough. By returning products made from ‘Banked cells’ back to the patients who donated the Banked cells, it fell within the practice of medicine and completely bypassed the FDA channels. So breakthroughs for individual patients can be made available to the patients who supplied the Banked hair cells. Of course, it is critical to have ethical doctors here, and in this case it is hard to get better more reputable doctors than Drs. Nilofer, Bessem Farjo and Paul Kemp. They then turned their attention to some of the breakthrough technologies like Intercytex Corporation that lost funding in years past when they were hot on a solution for hair cloning. The parent company, Aderans, which acquired the intellectual property from Intercytex, combined it with their own intellectual property in order to carry out clinical trials of autologouos human Dermal Papilla cells with autologous keratinocytes. They even took it into clinical trials, but again funding was lost just at a threshold of success. Drs. Nilofer, Bessem Farjo and Paul Kemp are fully aware of these technologies and Drs Frajo are clinical hair transplant doctors deeply involved in research, so obtaining these Banked hair cells is easy for them. It is not so simple as getting hair follicles from FUE, but rather there are strict rules that they must follow as ‘Cultured cells’ are considered ‘substantially manipulated’ if they extract stem cell from these hair follicles which by themselves is not considered ‘substantially manipulated’. There is a difficult balance between ‘medical regulatory agencies’ that regular such practices and the doctor’s medical license that affords doctors a great freedom to help their patients, if in the doctor’s judgment, proper research was performed that guarantee the safety of their patients. With regard to marketing such advances, each country has different rules, so crooked doctors can be found everywhere. The key to our readership is to make sure that they do the proper research when responding to advertisements found all over the internet for hair cloning and hair regeneration.
Drs. Nilofer, Bessem Farjo and Paul Kemp took it even one step further taking advantage of new breakthroughs in genetics that allow fingerprinting of the cell genome to deeply characterize a cell. Research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found clues to Dermal Papilla cells (at the base of a hair follicle) and possibly why previous research has failed to get better hair growth during cultures. The target of this research is to develop a product that is an adjunct to hair transplantation addressing the question “What if your hair can be ‘rejuvenated’ rather than regenerated” possibly once every few years through cell therapy. A treatment available once very few years that improves or keeps your hair may be better than hair transplants. What do you think?