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**Clinic intro. E.g. At Hair Medic UK, we are passionate about keeping up to date with the latest research and scientific innovations surrounding hair loss. This allows us to discuss diverse options with our patients, including whether hair follicle banking could be right for you**

What is hair follicle banking?

Hair follicles are a diverse source of regenerative tissue. Banking whole hair follicles involves specially freezing (cryopreserving) hair follicles, allowing them to be stored indefinitely until opportunities for cell therapy become available. HairClone opened the world’s first hair follicle bank in 2019.

What is involved?

If this option is deemed appropriate and you are interested in banking hair follicles, you will be referred to the Farjo Hair Institute in Manchester. Here, surgeons will extract a little over 100 hair follicles (40-50 grafts) from the back of the head under local anaesthesia. Follicles can be taken in a simple surgical procedure that takes less than an hour or as part of a hair transplant.

Hair follicles are then cryopreserved using specialised, controlled freezing techniques, and shipped to a HairClone-licensed, HTA-approved tissue bank. Here, they can be stored for many decades in liquid nitrogen (below -180°C).

What can my hair follicles be used for?

HairClone is nearing clinical testing of a much-anticipated approach to reversing early-stage hair loss and stopping its progression. Among around 20 cell types, hair follicles contain specialised ‘instructor cells’ called dermal papilla cells. These cells instruct the hair to grow and their number corresponds with how thick hairs grow. During the progression of androgenic alopecia (male/female pattern hair loss), dermal papilla cells are lost.

HairClone have the technology to multiply dermal papilla cells over 1000 times and plan to inject these into regions undergoing active thinning (hair miniaturisation). The aim is to rebuild these follicles and restore the number of dermal papilla cells, therefore restoring hair thickness. The overall goal is to maintain the appearance of a full head of hair over a lifetime. Early clinical work and animal studies have shown promise, but the true potential of this treatment is yet to be fully tested.

Due to the large amounts of signalling molecules these cells produce, the liquid media in which they grow in the lab could also be a potent stimulator of hair growth. HairClone has recently received a 3-year Government grant from UK Innovate to look at the potential of human cell-derived topical and injectable treatments. Solutions taken from cells contain exosomes and other secreted signals that could be beneficial to those experiencing hair miniaturisation.

The table below provides an overview of some of the potential uses for cryopreserved hair follicles:

Cell type Role in hair follicle Potential use in regenerative medicine
Dermal papilla cells Control hair growth HairClone is developing a personalised cell therapy to treat androgenetic alopecia (pattern hair loss)
Bulge stem cells Aid in producing new hairs and wound healing Being investigated for numerous treatments, including restoring eye sight and in healing nerve damage
Melanocytes Give hair and skin their colour Could provide a source of cells for treating vitiligo (loss of skin pigment) and/or greying hair
Dermal sheath fibroblasts Support the maintenance of dermal papilla cells Being used in trials for tendon repair
Keratinocytes Multiply to form the hair shaft under control of the dermal papilla Have potential in wound healing applications


Why bank hair follicles now?

Cryopreserving follicles ‘stops the clock’ of biological aging. Cells remain the age of the donor at the time of banking follicles. Younger cells are known to be of better quality and grow better in culture. When treatment becomes available, it is beneficial to have the youngest cells possible to give a greater chance of a successful outcome. Banking can therefore be considered an ‘insurance plan’ for your hair.

100% of profits from the banking service go into making a personalised cell therapy for androgenetic alopecia a clinical reality.

Follicles remain the property of the patient. You can choose to use them for whatever therapy, or therapies, become available (for hair loss or other uses).

How much does hair follicle banking cost?

To bank follicles at The Farjo Hair Institute in Manchester, the charge is £2200 if banking follicles whilst having a hair transplant or £2700 if banking is a stand-alone procedure in order to cover set up costs. This covers all HairClone, clinic and administrative fees.

After the first 12 months, there is an annual maintenance fee of £120 to cover the cost of storing follicles in liquid nitrogen.


Interested? Next Steps

*Talk to me about whether hair banking is for you*

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