Study shows stem cells could treat hair loss

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A new clinical study is offering hope for folks who suffer from hair loss. The treatment: stem cells.

Americans spend between one and four billion dollars a year treating hair loss. It's a problem that affects around 56 million people in this country. Now, four surgeons in the U.S. are testing a stem cell treatment in a non-surgical procedure, and overseas trials in Japan and Egypt are already showing some success.

Roy Woelke knows how overwhelming hair loss can be. He's been dealing with it for 30 years.

“I noticed thinning in my late 20s, and it never stops. It seems like it just goes on and on,” he said.

He’s had three hair replacement surgeries, but that’s really just moving hair around the head, and as he says, you run out of supply. Dr. Kenneth Williams may have new hope for Roy and millions of others. He’s running a clinical trial that uses stem cells and platelet-rich plasma, or PRP, to treat baldness.

“The study is taking cells that are in our body that help to regenerate or stimulate inactive or dormant hair follicles. That is the theory behind what we’re doing this procedure on.”

Doctor Williams takes fat from the abdomen, emulsifies it and separates the stem cells, mixes it with the patient’s own plasma which has been spun down to be super concentrated. Then with 300 shots, he injects the mixture into the scalp, twice over a three month period. Roy hopes to get into the trial, which has five participants so far. Dr. Williams already does the procedure for paying patients who’ve had promising results.

“Those patients are seeing some differences in the density of the hair. We’re waiting for the final results, which takes 9 to 12 months after the administration. We look to see the final results of what we’re doing," Dr. Williams explained.

Dr. Williams hopes to publish results in two years.

His trial is supported by National Institutes of Health, but not by a major pharmaceutical company yet. That means his trial is patient-funded, meaning they’ll pay a reduced cost of the $2,500 to $5,800 procedure, depending on which arm of the trial is chosen.

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Research Summary

Background: Around 70 percent of men and 40 percent of women are impacted by hair loss. Two- thirds of American men will suffer from some kind of hair loss by the age of 35. By the age of 50, 85 percent of American men will experience thinning of their hair. The process begins for 25 percent of men during their twenties, and even though it is a common process that occurs naturally, like aging, most men and women are unhappy and would do anything to fix or delay the process. Hair loss can occur for different reasons like disease, reaction to medications and stressful events; however, heredity is most often the cause of hair loss.
(Source: http://www.americanhairloss.org/men_hair_loss/introduction.asp & http://www.straandstudy.com)

Treatments: American hair loss sufferers have spent around $3.5 billion combined in treatments. If a treatment is not FDA approved or recommended by the AHLA (American Hair Loss Association), it may not be a safe option for your scalp or hair. The key to treating hair loss or hair thinning is treating it early. The two popular options recommended by the AHLA are medication or surgery, like propecia, and/or surgical hair restoration.
(Source: http://www.americanhairloss.org/men_hair_loss/treatment.asp)

Straand Study: Dr. Kenneth Williams is currently running a clinical trial that will hopefully help and delay hair loss. Unlike any other form of current treatment, Dr. Williams is focusing on stem cells and platelet-rich plasma, or PRP, to treat baldness. The study consists of taking stem cells that are already in the body to regenerate or stimulate inactive hair follicles. Studies show that stem cells residing in the scalp remain at recurrent numbers but in balding patients, the conversion of stem cells to progenitor cells required for follicle growth is reduced. The goal of this study is to stimulate hair to become active and to be able to grow again. In the non-surgical procedure, Dr. Williams takes fat from the abdomen of the patient. The stem cells are separated from the fat cells by emulsification. The stem cells are then mixed with the patient’s plasma and the mixture is injected 300 times into the scalp of the patient twice in the span of three months. With the current five participants in the study, the results have been very promising. The current trial is supported by National Institutes of Health and is patient-funded. For more information on the study or to become a participant, visit www.straandstudy.com.
(Source: Dr. Kenneth Williams & www.straandstudy.com)