Today’s blog topic is in regards to a start-up biotech company called HairClone which is headquartered in Manchester and has just been granted a license by the UK government to launch the world’s first hair follicle banking service. HairClone has partnered up with a licensed UK Tissue Bank and will be the world’s first hair follicle banking system. Men and women suffering from genetic hair loss now have the ability to have their hair follicles cryopreserved and stored for future available treatments.

This hair banking will be available to all adults aged 18 years and older and costs will be similar to other tissue banking procedures, which currently costs about 2000 pounds or roughly $2400 USD.

hairclone hair follicle stem cell multiplication

The initial process with HairClone involves a consultation between a patient and the doctor to determine whether banking follicles would be a good option. If the doctor deems you to be a good candidate, roughly 100 hair follicles will be extracted from the donor zone most likely how an FUE procedure is conducted. The follicles will then be carefully cryopreserved to maintain cell viability before being stored at -180 degrees Celsius at HairClone’s partner tissue bank.

HairClone is currently in the works of developing a treatment plan which involves using these extracted hair follicle cells and cloning and multiplying them and then implanting them back in the scalp through a series of small injections. HairClone states that from previous research, these hair follicle cells are able to replace those lost in the miniaturized hairs and have the ability to rebuild them to their original thickness and length.

This sounds awfully like Replicel and Shiseido’s RCH-01 which involves culturing a person’s own hair follicle cells, specifically the derma sheath cup cells, multiplying them and then re-injecting them back into the scalp. As far as Replicel and Shiseido, we are currently waiting for an update so as soon as I find out, I will let you guys know. And, a little digging on HairClone’s science on their research confirms that they, too, are researching the treatment concept relating to the derma papilla and epithelial cells.

hair follicle stem cell multiplication

The only noticeable difference between Replicel’s RCH-01 and HairClone is obviously that Replicel doesn’t need to cryopreserve follicles in a tissue bank. According to HairClone’s Medical Director Dr Farjo, the idea behind banking hair follicles now before treatments are available is by "taking follicles at the earliest age possible, the cells will be preserved and store when they are young and are optimally viable." It’s shown that the number of cells within a hair follicle steadily declines as we age. Storing the follicles at these ultra-low temperatures then “stops the clock” on their ageing. Dr Farjo further states that banking allows for multiple personalized cell therapies over many years using the original follicles obtained from the one procedure since only a fraction of the hair follicles will be thawed at any one time.

So, these are my personal thoughts on HairClone and their hair follicle banking service. I’m not a huge fan of this idea. First off, the CEO is Dr. Kemp, who was the former CEO of Intercytex founded back in 2000, which was one of the first companies to begin experiments with hair cloning. Their phase 3 clinical didn’t show good results and in 2008, the company admitted that they failed in fully developing hair cloning therapy and decided to discontinue all research. The company’s financial background was also very unstable during this time, ended up laying off a lot of its workers, and eventually had to cut funding on various research projects including hair cloning. The company ended up going out of business in 2010.

We have companies like Replicel and Shiseido’s RCH-01 who are in the works of hair cloning without having to cryopreserve hair follicles. The unofficial video I covered regarding Dr Tsuji’s cure for a hair loss also doesn’t involve having to cryopreserve hair follicles. For most people, the hairs on the back of the donor zone are going to be permanent. If you see even the most balding people, they are able to retain the horseshoe strap of hair on the back of the head. Most people will have enough DHT resistant hair follicles to be able to multiply and clone them for future treatments, including Dr Tsuji and Replicel, so I honestly don’t see any good benefit of spending nearly $2400 and $120 each month to preserve my hair follicles from a company whose efficacy has not been proven. I just think it would be a waste of money, especially when such method isn’t really required. The reality is that freezing hair follicle cells is the easy part but delivering a working treatment is a different ballgame.

Let me know your thoughts on HairClone and if you would spend thousands of dollars to have your hair follicles frozen in hopes of a future treatment. I sure wouldn’t. Share comments below!

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