HairCon 2019 in Indore

The national conference of Hair Transplant doctors in India, Haircon 2019 of the Association of Hair Restoration Surgeons of India, was a great success. It was held in Indore under the organisation of Dr. Anil Garg, our tireless and inventive secretary. I had a great time catching up with old friends in the fraternity, including Dr. Parag Neog of Monjoven HT Clinic in Guwahati, my senior. It was also great to learn about the latest advances in the field, there are always so many things to learn even after all these years of doing transplants! There were a number of foreign experts and it was great listening to their experiences and learning from them. I was elected to the Ethics Committee of the AHRS and it will be a great opportunity for me to try and bring about a more ethical practice by hair transplant doctors in India.
Indore has a pleasant climate and the streets are so wide and clean. Indore has the well deserved reputation of being the cleanest city in India, and the streets, etc are far better than those of Guwahati. We are really very backward even compared to a city like Indore. One thing that amazed me was the that even the busy city intersections do not have traffic lights, people just manage to cross safely by looking at the other vehicles and there is no traffic jam. If there had been no traffic lights or police to control the traffic in Guwahati, everybody would simply rush in and create a huge mess!

2019 HT COnference participation

Stem cell Therapy for hair growth

A lot is being promised for stem cell therapy for hair growth. Wild claims abound and many hair clinics have in fact started advertising that they are using stem cells for growth of hair.

But the reality is – science is still very far from actually using stem cells as a cure of baldness.

There is every reason to hope that stem cell therapy will one day be able to reverse baldness. But unfortunately that day is still far off.

There are two ways in which stem cell therapy could work.

The first approach could be drugs or other methods which can stimulate existing stem cells at the hair base to continue to produce hair instead of slowly dying out as happens in balding persons. There is a lot of research going on into this and scientists are slowly unravelling the genes that may be responsible for shutting down hair growth. But there is a long way to go yet. The actual genes which control hair growth are still far from being identified comprehensively. We still do not know what genes turn on or off the stem cells. Nor is it likely to be found out soon.

Once the genes are identified, the next challenge will be to find a way to turn them on or off. That needless to say is an even bigger challenge. A lot of research is being done into stem cells not just for hair but for various other illnesses. Even where the genes have been identified, scientists have no idea of how to actually stimulate the genes to get the stem cells working. So we can understand how far we are as yet from this approach being successful.

The second approach is to identify and isolate the stem cells for hair growth,get them to multiply in a test tube and then replant them again in the bald areas. This approach is even further away from attaining success. We have not yet been succesful in isolating hair stem cells and far from getting them to multiply. Even once we do so, it seems unlikely that simply planting the cells into the scalp will produce hair – the cells would need to be in the particular structure of the hair root to enable a thin long hair to be produced and not just random hair cells. So this approach seems even more difficult.

But  a  lot of research is being done on stem cells in many different fields. It is very likely that breakthroughs in any field will benefit the rest of them. So stem cell approach could very well be used to cure baldness in the near future. But we will probably have to wait a couple of decades or so before they are actually successful.

In the meantime, dont believe any advertisement that says they use stem cell therapy for hair growth – no research lab has been successful as yet in this and they must be scams!!

 

 

Palash Mazumdar