new hair implant techniques offer hope to people with baldness
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New hair implant techniques offer hope to people with baldness

The age-old quest to eliminate baldness continues this week with the announcement of a new project designed to revolutionize hair transplants. Though Hippocrates (considered the father of medicine) once offered castration as a cure for baldness, modern day researchers hope a less drastic procedure will suffice.

A British company, Intercytex, is trying to raise £15 million to research a new technique called cell implantation. Intercytex’s founder, Dr. Paul Kemp, is preparing his team for a second round of trials into cell implantation, a procedure he hopes will end thinning and hair loss among people of all ages.

Current hair transplant procedures involve the removal of a fairly large strip of skin from the scalp, the hairs of which are then redistributed as necessary around the head. According to Dr. Kemp, cell implantation is a much less drastic procedure. Practitioners will take a biopsy of the scalp under local anesthetic, then send the biopsy to the lab for the cells to be multiplied. Once the few cells become thousands, they are returned from the lab and implanted into the patient’s head where they will grow new hairs.

Dr. Kemp, underwent the treatment last fall as a part of the first human trials, is confident of the eventual success of the project. According to Kemp, the treatment was successful in 5 of 7 patients; he points to a small area with 66 new hairs on his own head as proof of its success. Aiming to have the product on the market by 2010, Dr. Kemp needs to find funding to keep his research afloat.

Intercytex plans a second round of human trials in the coming months, with 30 volunteers undergoing the treatment. As Professor Desmond Tobin of the University of Bradford has pointed out, further research is needed to determine if the cells will bond firmly to the scalp and if the hair follicles will grow in the right size, shape, and direction.

If the tests are successful, Dr. Kemp believes his procedure will revolutionize the treatment of baldness. He envisions patients who’ve undergone a large initial treatment getting annual touch-ups at walk-in clinics to help maintain their new hair. The release of the preliminary study and the search for funding have generated buzz in the community, buzz Dr. Kemp hopes will help attract the much-needed cash. One thing is certain- based on the web traffic he has generated, Dr. Kemp will have no trouble finding enough volunteers for the second round of trials.

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