Reversing baldness could one day be as easy as wearing a hat, thanks to a non-invasive and inexpensive technology to stimulate hair growth developed by engineers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“I think it will be a very practical solution to hair regeneration,” said Xudong Wang, professor of materials science and engineering at UW-Madison, in a press release. the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Wang and his colleagues published a description of the technology in the review ACS Nano .
Based on devices that collect the energy of daily body movements, hair regrowth technology stimulates the skin with gentle, low-frequency electrical impulses that force dormant follicles to reactivate the production of hair.
The devices do not regrow the hair follicles in smooth skin. Instead, they reactivate structures producing hair that have become dormant. This means that they could be used as an intervention for people who are in the early stages of baldness, but would not cascade hair to someone as bald as a billiard ball for several years.
Since the devices are powered by the movement of the carrier, they do not require a large battery or complex electronic components. In fact, they are so discreet that they could be worn discreetly under the crown of an ordinary baseball cap.
Wang was the pioneer of wound healing electric bandages and a weight loss implant using gentle electricity to make the stomach feel full.
Hair growth technology is based on a similar principle: small devices, called nanogenerators, passively collect energy from daily movements, then transmit low-frequency electrical impulses to the skin. This gentle electrical stimulation causes the dormant follicles to wake up, the statement said.
“Electrical stimulation can help many functions of the body,” says Wang. “But before our work, there was no really effective solution for discreet devices offering gentle but effective stimulation.”
Because the electrical impulses are incredibly soft and do not penetrate deeper than the outermost layers of the scalp, the devices do not appear to cause any unpleasant side effects. This is a marked advantage over other treatments for baldness, such as the drug Propecia, which carries risks of sexual dysfunction, depression and anxiety.
In addition, in side-by-side tests on hairless mice, these devices stimulated hair growth just as effectively as two different compounds found in baldness medications.
“It’s a self-activated system, very simple and easy to use,” says Wang. “The energy is very low, so the side effects will be minimal.”
Researchers have patented the concept with the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and hope to be able to test humans soon, the statement said.