An inexpensive technology stimulating hair growth has have been developed by American engineers who believe that their encouraging results on rodents could soon be tested on humans.
Hair loss is often a difficult time for many humans who dream of a cure that will stop or even reverse it.
Two options are available to them :
- The transplantation of hair micrografts, practiced for more than 50 years. A surgery that is painful and expensive.
- Two pharmacological prescription treatments. Their effectiveness is often disappointing and their side effects (which may include depression, anxiety and sexual dysfunction) as well as their cost discourage many consumers.
Pharmaceutical companies continue to invest millions of dollars to find treatments with more conclusive results, but hopes remain disappointed.
There is regenerative therapy, which has been promising for a few years by allowing a very fast growth of hair follicles. There is still a lot of work to do before coming up with an option for the millions of people who lose their hair.
A device developed by American engineers could, however, allow some optimism.
A solution under the cap
Professor Xudong Wang and his team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed a device that fits in the palm of a hand and gently stimulates the skin with low frequency electrical impulses.
Specifically, small devices (nanogenerators) passively collect the energy of daily movements and then transmit low-frequency electrical impulses to the scalp, which “wake up” the dormant follicles.
- A human has an average of 100,000 hair. He normally loses 50 to 100 hairs a day, with peaks of 175 during seasonal changes.
- Hair loss is considered abnormal when a person loses more than 150 hairs a day for a fairly long period of up to two months.
- In women, especially after menopause, hair loss affects between 40% and 50% of women.
- Between 25% and 30% of men are diagnosed with baldness in their early thirties and 50% at age 50.
According to the researchers, this stimulation induces dormant follicles to reactivate the production of hair.
As it is powered by the movements of its user, the electronic device does not need a bulky battery. It would be so discreet to be worn under a cap.
I think it will be a very practical solution for hair regeneration.
Mr. Wang says that electrical impulses do not penetrate deeper than the outermost layers of the scalp and cause no unpleasant sensation.
There is a but …
The device could not however, according to the researchers, allow to push the hair follicles of a smooth skin. Which means that he will not be effective on a bald man for several years.
It may, however, be helpful to people in the early stages of baldness.
Experiments conducted on rodents show that the device gives similar results to drugs already available on the market but without their side effects.
The device is now patented and tests on humans will begin soon.
The details of this work are published in the ACS Nano Journal.
Did you know?
Professor Wang is recognized for his work in designing energy harvesting devices. He created electric bandages that stimulate the healing of wounds and an implant that allows weight loss by stimulating the stomach to create the feeling of satiety.
Hair growth technology is based on a similar principle.
Some of the latest important breakthroughs :
- In May 2018, a chance discovery of British researchers showed that a drug originally designed to treat osteoporosis had a significant stimulating effect on the development of hair follicles of men who had undergone a hair transplant.
- In March 2012, dermatologist George Cotsarelis and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania highlighted the role of a certain protein, prostaglandin D synthetase , in hair loss. A first genetic mutation associated with baldness was discovered in 2008.
- In 2006, the molecular process allowing embryonic cells to become capillary cells was identified by British researchers.
Steve Allun is just getting his start as a journalist. Steve attended a technical school while still in high school where he learned a variety of skills, from photography to coding. Apart from being a contributor to the site, Steve also helps keep hw4all social media feeds up-to-date.