The Place: the renowned IST Tumor Research Institute in Genova, Italy.
The Event: the birth of a human hair — in vitro.
The Result: Cloned hair. Grown, nurtured and collected. And ready to be transplanted onto the balding head of a willing patient.
Two plastic surgeons who conduct research at the institute — Pierluigi Santi and his colleague Edoardo Rapposio have certified and should be ready to patent their findings of what is now known as Iso-9001 in about four months. For all intents and purposes — cloned hair. But the end result of their discovery isn’t what they had in mind at the outset.
Santi is no stranger in the field of reconstructive and plastic surgery. Heralded in Europe and in the US for his work in scalp reconstruction, this “hair-multiplication” breakthrough is a logical extension of the research Santi does at the Institute.
Commented Santi – who is the Director of Reconstructive Surgery at IST, “…The crucial part lies in the “bulb” or root of the hair follicle. Each root can be divided in two…which in turn can regenerate into a new hair…which in turn can be subdivided again. In this way with one hair can be subdivided into many and a transplant can later occur that doesn’t rely on multiple hairs being taken off the scalp and re-distributed…”
According to an article in the Italian newspaper “La Corriere Della Sera” — from one hair — 15 new ones can be reproduced in about 12 days. The next step is transplanting those hairs one by one, and then allowing those hairs to grow at their normal rate. Santi and Rapposio have taken their research one step farther. The cloned follicles can be used in eye brows or a beard or anywhere on the body where hair is found. That’s good news to more patients than those just looking for a full head of hair. Individuals who have lost hair due to traumatic accidents – burn victims for example — Could benefit from this follicle breakthrough.
Santi figures that with only 10 hairs acquired from one patient, the cloning process will generate enough follicles to make a full head of hair.
Director General of IST — GianFranco Ciappina — looks at the research being performed with more of a managerial interest:
“…I wouldn’t go as far as saying this is a cure for baldness. But it is evident that the discovery of the in-vitro hair duplication has many applications in the field of beauty and aesthetics. However this field isn’t really related to the mission we have here at the Tumor Research Institute. Having said that however, it would be silly to dismiss this discovery. The process of cloning hair and its application in hair transplants offers us an excellent opportunity to sell this resource as a way to finance the work being done at IST…”
Word of this discovery is quickly making the rounds of interested parties. According to the website www.hairlosshelp.com, similar work has been attempted in the field of hair replacement but none as promising as this breakthrough looks to be.