Stem cells used to help stop hair loss

Clinical trial uses stem cells, platelet-rich plasma to treat baldness

By Lauren Freeman - Anchor

HOUSTON - Americans spend between $1 billion and $4 billion a year treating hair loss. Now, four surgeons in the U.S. are testing a stem cell treatment in a non-surgical procedure. Overseas trials in Japan and Egypt are already showing some success.

"It's been 30 years of concern," Roy Woelke said.

Woelke knows how overwhelming hair loss can be.

"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 said, you run out of supply. Dr. Kenneth Williams, a hair restoration surgeon, may have new hope for Woelke 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," Williams said.

Williams takes fat from the abdomen, emulsifies it and separates the stem cells and mixes them 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.

Williams already does the procedure for paying patients, who have had promising results.

"Those patients are seeing some differences in the density of the hair. We're waiting for the final results, which take nine to 12 months after the administration. We look to see the final results of what we’re doing," he said.

Williams hopes to publish results in two years. The trial is supported by the National Institutes of Health, but not by a major pharmaceutical company yet. That means people must pay to participate. Contact the Irvine Institute of Medicine and Cosmetic Surgery at 949-333-2999 or visit straandstudy.com for more information.

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