HairClone Authorized to Launch World’s First Hair Follicle Banking System
Biotechnology firm HairClone, headquartered in the UK, says it wants to ‘make hair loss a thing of the past.’
As a major first step toward this achievement, HairClone, in partnership with a licensed UK tissue bank, has now been authorized by the UK regulators to launch the world’s first-ever hair follicle banking system.
Male and female patients who are concerned about hair loss can now have some of their hair follicles cryopreserved and stored for future available treatments.
Respected hair restoration surgeon Dr. Marco Barusco, Co-founder and Medical Director of Tempus Hair Restoration in Florida and a HairClone Clinical Partner since 2018 – the first and only Clinical Partner in Florida – says, “Our patients will be extremely happy to hear that we will soon be harvesting their hair and bank them for future use with this exciting technology. We have a growing list of patients asking about the availability of this service, and we can now give them the great news. We are all very excited!”
Hair follicle banking will be open to all adults, ages 18 and over.
In the HairClone banking process, the patient and surgeon will first decide whether banking is a good option. Then, around a hundred hair follicles will be removed from the back of the patient’s scalp in a simple surgical procedure which will take less than an hour. Patients should be able to continue with their regular activities immediately afterward. The follicles will then be carefully cryopreserved to maintain cell viability, before being stored at minus 180 ºC at HairClone’s partner tissue bank. HairClone has developed a shipping method that will be used by Dr. Barusco to ship the harvested hairs from our surgical center to HairClone’s tissue bank.
HairClone is developing a personalized treatment that will use cells from a patient’s banked hair follicles to rebuild the miniaturized hairs caused by androgenic alopecia. In this treatment, some of the banked follicles will be carefully thawed and the relevant cells multiplied (cloned) and transported back to the surgical center, where they will be implanted back into the scalp through a series of small injections. Early work has indicated that these cells are able to replace those lost in the miniaturized hairs, rebuilding them to their original thickness and length.
Dr. Barusco explains why a patient would want to bank their hair now before the treatments are available: “Once hairs are harvested from the patient and frozen in the tissue bank, the aging process of these cells stops. So, the sooner the patient banks their hair, the younger the cells will be when they are used to treat their hair loss.”
Banking also allows for multiple personalized cell therapies over many years using the original follicles obtained from the one procedure because only a fraction of the hair follicles will be thawed at any one time. Dr. Barusco adds, “Since hair loss is progressive and patients continue to lose hair as they get older, they will likely need repeat treatments in order to address new areas of thinning hair.”
Paul Kemp, PhD, HairClone’s CEO, says: “We are extremely excited to reach this major milestone in the company’s journey. Although we have approval to start follicle banking, it is important to stress that this does not mean we are authorized yet to begin treatments. Gaining that authorization will be our next goal and follicle banking will also provide important revenues to accelerate this development and because these patients’ follicles are already banked, they can be the first to have access to the treatments when we have the necessary authorizations.”
The science underpinning the treatment concept relates to the ‘cloning’ and multiplying of Dermal Papilla, or ‘DP’, cells found in hair follicles and which communicate with other nearby ‘epithelial’ cells, controlling the formation of the hair shaft.
Kemp explains: “Hair is a naturally regenerating mini-organ. It goes through periods of growth, then resting, shedding and regeneration. This process is controlled by a specific group of very specialized cells at the base of the hair follicle called Dermal Papilla cells and they determine the thickness and length of the hair shaft that is produced.
“Hair loss is the result of a decrease in the number of these critical dermal papilla cells from affected follicles. This results in the hair shafts becoming thinner and shorter which eventually gives the appearance that the hairs are lost. HairClone aims to replace the dermal papilla cells and rebuild these miniaturizing follicles back to their original thickness and length. By multiplying these cells from a patient’s own banked follicles our hope is that we will be able to rebuild thousands of miniaturizing hairs from a few banked follicles. Our goal is to maintain a patient’s hair density while also preventing these treated hairs from miniaturization in the future.”
Dr. Bessam Farjo, Medical Director of HairClone, says the process could eventually be an alternative to drugs such as Minoxidil® and Finasteride® and an augmentation to traditional hair transplantation – which sees hair follicles being moved from a healthy donor site to a balding area.
HairClone is developing a global Clinical Partner Network
To make banking broadly available, HairClone is developing a unique clinical partner network across the globe.
These partners are recognized as some of the leading hair transplant surgeons in the world, and they are so convinced about the future potential of this therapy that they are co-funding the research. When partner clinics are trained in the process and registered as licensed procurement centers, they will be able to be ship patients’ follicles for cryopreservation and storage in the UK.
HairClone expects to increase the number of clinical partners in the coming months, but there are already over 100 million people within 50 miles of a partner clinic in the UK, United States, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
Dr. Farjo adds, “Being part of a venture like HairClone allows myself and the other clinical partners to tap into the type of treatment that can contribute to the future of hair restoration where we hope to be able to treat a whole category of patients that we cannot help now.”
HairClone is also researching the formation of new hair follicles
And in the longer term, HairClone has another important target – to one day use cells from banked follicles to create thousands of brand-new hair follicles from scratch, via a process called ‘follicle neogenesis.’ This will help patients whose hair has miniaturized too far to be rebuilt and who have too little donor hair for a surgical hair transplant.
Kemp adds: “Creating brand-new hairs generates a lot of interest, but it will be easier and probably more cosmetically suitable to rebuild a patient’s own natural hairs that are just miniaturizing, rather than generating new ones.”
HairClone is a startup biotechnology company founded by an international group of leading scientists, clinicians and biotechnologists with extensive experience in commercial cell therapy and hair restoration surgery. They operate from laboratories in Birmingham’s BioHub and will collaborate with licensed banking and manufacturing facilities in Sheffield and Newcastle.
About Tempus Hair Restoration
Tempus Hair Restoration is the largest hair restoration practice in Florida, with 14 locations. Its Co-founder and Medical Director, Dr. Marco Barusco, has over 20 years of dedicated experience to hair loss and hair restoration surgery and is a respected surgeon, innovator, researcher and teacher in the field. In 2017, Dr. Barusco was invited by HairClone to join their select Clinical Partner Network, becoming the first in Florida and the fifth in the United States.
HairClone Authorized to Launch World’s First Hair Follicle Banking System
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