How to grow new hair follicles in your scalp -

How to grow new hair follicles in your scalp

It is possible to grow completely new hair follicles in your scalp. It’s called ‘hair follicle neogenesis’ and it’s been achieved in several studies. This article will explain how it’s been done and how you can do it at home…

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Last updated: Jan 25, 2024

There have been several studies and clinical trials exploring methods to grow new hair on bald scalps. One notable area of research involves hair follicle regeneration and hair cloning techniques. While these studies are still in the experimental stages and not widely available as commercial treatments, they offer promising insights into potential future solutions for hair loss.

Using stem cells

One notable study that gained attention was conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania. The study, published in the journal “Nature Communications” in 2015, described a method to generate new hair follicles using human pluripotent stem cells. Pluripotent stem cells have the ability to differentiate into various cell types, including hair follicle cells.

In this study, the researchers used a combination of specific signaling molecules to encourage the pluripotent stem cells to develop into dermal papilla cells, which play a crucial role in hair follicle formation and growth. These engineered dermal papilla cells were then combined with epidermal (skin) cells and transplanted onto the backs of mice. The results showed that these cells formed functional hair follicles, leading to the growth of new hair on the mice.

While this study was conducted on mice, it provided valuable insights into the potential for generating new hair follicles using stem cell technology. However, it’s important to note that translating these findings into safe and effective treatments for humans requires further research, including addressing challenges related to scalability, safety, and long-term efficacy.

Using growth factors

Another area of interest is the use of growth factors and signaling molecules. Growth factors are naturally occurring proteins that play a crucial role in cell growth, proliferation, and differentiation. By applying specific growth factors to the scalp, researchers hope to stimulate the formation of new hair follicles and encourage existing hair follicles to grow thicker and stronger.

Research involving the use of growth factors to stimulate hair growth has gained significant attention in the field of dermatology and hair restoration. Growth factors are signaling molecules that play a crucial role in regulating various cellular processes, including cell growth, proliferation, and differentiation. In the context of hair growth, these molecules are believed to stimulate the activity of hair follicle cells, leading to the formation of new hair and the improvement of existing hair thickness and density.

One of the key growth factors studied in the context of hair growth is vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). VEGF is known for its role in angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels, and it has been shown to promote the growth of hair follicles by improving blood circulation in the scalp. Better blood flow ensures that hair follicles receive an adequate supply of oxygen and nutrients, which are essential for healthy hair growth.

Another important growth factor studied in hair regeneration research is fibroblast growth factor (FGF). FGFs are involved in various biological processes, including tissue repair and regeneration. Researchers have explored the use of specific FGFs to stimulate the proliferation of hair follicle cells and induce the growth of new hair.

How does FGF increase hair growth?

Fibroblast growth factor (FGF) is a family of signaling proteins that play a crucial role in various biological processes, including tissue repair and regeneration. When applied topically to the scalp, FGF is believed to stimulate hair growth through several mechanisms:

Cell Proliferation: FGFs can promote the proliferation (or multiplication) of cells in the hair follicles. By encouraging the growth and division of cells in the hair follicles, FGFs can potentially lead to the formation of new hair strands.

Inducing Anagen Phase: Hair growth occurs in cycles, with the anagen phase being the active growth phase of the hair follicles. FGFs may help prolong the anagen phase, allowing hair to grow for a longer duration before entering the resting (telogen) phase. Prolonging the active growth phase can result in longer and thicker hair.

Angiogenesis: FGFs can promote angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels. Improved blood circulation in the scalp ensures that hair follicles receive an adequate supply of oxygen, nutrients, and growth factors, creating a conducive environment for healthy hair growth.

Stem Cell Activation: FGFs may activate stem cells present in the hair follicles. Stem cells have the potential to differentiate into various cell types, including those found in hair follicles. Activation of these stem cells can lead to the regeneration of hair follicles and the growth of new hair strands.

Anti-Apoptotic Effects: Apoptosis is a process of programmed cell death. FGFs may have anti-apoptotic effects, protecting hair follicle cells from premature cell death and promoting their survival.

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How does a hair folicle grow: the hair growth phases explained

Hair follicles are tiny, tube-like structures located in the skin that produce and support hair growth. The process of hair growth, known as the hair growth cycle, involves several stages. Here’s an overview of how a hair follicle grows:

Anagen Phase (Active Growth)

This is the active phase of hair growth. Cells in the hair follicle rapidly divide, and new hair is formed. The duration of the anagen phase varies among individuals and is influenced by factors such as genetics and hormonal changes. Scalp hairs may remain in the anagen phase for several years, while body hairs have a shorter anagen phase.

Catagen Phase (Transitional)

The catagen phase is a transitional phase that follows the anagen phase. It is a relatively short period (a few weeks) during which the hair follicle shrinks, and the lower part of the follicle is destroyed. The hair stops growing and is separated from the blood supply.

Telogen Phase (Resting)

The telogen phase is a resting phase, during which the hair follicle is dormant. The old hair is still attached to the hair follicle, but it is not actively growing. This phase lasts for a few months.

Exogen Phase (Hair Shedding)

While not always considered a separate phase, some sources include the exogen phase as the stage during which the old hair sheds and a new hair begins to emerge. The shedding of hair is a natural part of the hair growth cycle.

Repeat of the Cycle

After the telogen phase, the hair follicle re-enters the anagen phase, and the cycle repeats. The new hair growth gradually pushes out the old hair, and the process continues.

The key question then is: how can we trigger hairs to transition into the anagen phase and start growing again?

Apoptosis (Programmed Cell Death): The transition from anagen to catagen involves the initiation of apoptosis, a process of programmed cell death. This programmed cell death is controlled by various signaling pathways and molecular signals. Apoptosis in the lower part of the hair follicle is a key event in the regression of the hair follicle during the catagen phase.

Growth Factors and Cytokines: Various growth factors and cytokines are involved in signaling pathways that regulate the hair growth cycle. For example, transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) has been implicated in the induction of catagen by promoting apoptosis in the hair follicle.

Wnt Signaling: The Wnt signaling pathway is essential for maintaining the anagen phase and preventing premature entry into catagen. Disruption of Wnt signaling can lead to the transition to the catagen phase.

Protein Expression: Changes in the expression of specific proteins, such as those involved in cell adhesion and communication, contribute to the progression from anagen to catagen. For instance, increased expression of certain proteins can trigger the detachment of the hair from the blood supply and the surrounding matrix.