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Hair Cloning: Potential Cure for Baldness or Sci-Fi Dream?
Dr Mir Malkani
Medically reviewed by
Dr Mir Malkani
Updated on June 5, 2024

Recently, there has been increasing media chatter about an emergent hair restoration treatment called hair cloning. It is often presented as a potential cure for baldness. If you are one of the 85% of men and 55% of women who experience hair loss [1][2], this may seem like very hopeful news.

However, hair cloning is still in its infancy and while it has yielded some promising results in animals, it is yet to be tested on humans [3]. If this technique proves to be successful, it could indeed be a game-changer for the hair restoration industry. However, significantly more research and extensive human trials are needed to demonstrate its safety and effectiveness.

If you are facing a progressive type of alopecia, such as male pattern baldness, or female pattern baldness, it is best to get some proven hair loss treatment as soon as possible. A trichologist can recommend effective hair growth medication, therapies or even a hair transplant. Waiting for a cure that could be a decade or more away from being approved for medical use may not be a feasible option. This article will tell you all you need to know about:

  • What hair cloning is and how it is performed
  • Whether hair cloning could cure baldness
  • The types of hair loss this new technique could treat
  • When hair cloning is expected to become widely available
Table of Contents

What is hair cloning?

The word “cloning” is generally used to define the process of generating an identical copy of a cell, organism, or DNA sequence through scientific methods [4]. While hair cloning involves extracting cells from hair follicles and multiplying them in a laboratory setting, some specialists are concerned about using the term “cloning” to describe it. That is because they fear the public will associate this process with the reproductive cloning of organisms (e.g. Dolly the sheep). Thus, the term hair follicle neogenesis is sometimes preferred [3].

Hair cloning is an emergent hair restoration technique still in its development stage at this time [3][5]. While it showed promising results in animal studies, it has yet to begin human testing.

The process involves extracting cells from healthy hair follicles in areas of your head immune to androgenetic alopecia, multiplying them and implanting them in balding areas of your scalp. The end goal of this procedure is to either restore your miniaturised hair follicles or to develop new ones, resistant to the effects of genetic alopecia. 

How would hair cloning work?

There are 3 main ways in which hair cloning can theoretically be performed to good results in treating androgenetic alopecia in a human patient [3]. They all start with harvesting some healthy hair follicles from the back of the patient’s scalp, then one or more of the following procedures may be applied: 

Method #1

Stem cells are harvested from healthy hair follicles and multiplied in vitro. They are chosen because their plasticity allows them to develop into trichogenic cells, which promote hair production and growth.

These cells are then implanted in the problem areas of the scalp (e.g. a bald spot on the crown, a widening midline parting or a receding hairline). There, they are incorporated by the hair follicles affected by androgenetic alopecia, reversing their miniaturisation and rendering them immune to androgenetic alopecia.

Method #2

Stem cells or follicular fragments are harvested and multiplied in vitro. Then, they are implanted in scalp areas where hair follicles have been destroyed or aren’t sufficient, growing into brand-new ones.

These new healthy follicles would not be affected by androgen hormones such as dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and, thus, would be free from the effects of pattern baldness.

Method #3

Stem cells are multiplied and grown in vitro to the point where they develop into functional hair follicles that develop budding hair (proto-hairs). They are implanted in the balding area of the scalp through a procedure very similar to a regular hair transplant.

These small hairs are helped to grow in the right direction and integrate into the skin by biodegradable microscopic support structures (scaffolding) implanted alongside them.

Using hair cloning to restore hair follicles or grow new ones
Restoring miniaturised hair follicles (left) and creating new hair follicles (right) through hair cloning [3]

Could hair cloning cure baldness?

Provided that this type of hair loss treatment could achieve its now-theoretical benefits, it might provide a permanent cure for certain kinds of hair loss. Patients with advanced androgenetic alopecia would likely be the first to benefit from hair cloning, as it could resolve the problem of insufficient hair in the donor area or the risk of hair transplant overharvesting

However, some researchers caution that hair cloning may not provide the expected results. That is because they assert that the conditions that cause over 97% of hair loss in both genders (androgenetic alopecia, telogen effluvium and alopecia areata) are not produced by stem cell disorders or insufficient hair follicles [3]. 

What conditions could hair cloning treat?

While more research and human testing are required to show exactly how and to what extent this treatment could work if it were to achieve the envisioned results, it may help a variety of hair loss conditions. These may include:

  • Male pattern baldness
  • Female pattern baldness
  • Chronic telogen effluvium
  • Some forms of scarring alopecia
  • Advanced traction alopecia

What are the risks of hair cloning?

No human tests have been conducted at this time, so it is difficult to tell what the real-world adverse effects of such a procedure might be. Depending on the type of intervention used, you may expect some soreness, bleeding and risk of infection at injection/implantation sites, as you would with any procedure that breaks the skin. 

Data regarding potential unwanted side effects of the implanted cells/structures is yet to be collected. However, researchers have expressed concern regarding the cloned hair’s appearance, texture and growth pattern and the possibility of developing scalp tumours due to this treatment [3].   

Hair cloning on a mouse (normal and up-close view)
Hair cloning on a mouse - normal view (left) and close up (right) [7]

What is the current stage of hair cloning?

While some animal studies showed promising results [6], there are presently no trials to show that hair cloning would be safe and effective in humans [3][7] Cloned hair was successfully grown on mice, but their anatomy, hair and skin properties are significantly different from those of humans, so it is yet to be proven that this technology can yield the same results in people.  

However, animal studies did help iron out some problems with cloned hair growth. Initial attempts revealed that the strands obtained through this technique had an unnatural growth pattern. So, researchers used a collagen or synthetic matrix to support the new hairs as they developed and to ensure that they would grow in the right direction. This scaffolding is implanted alongside them but dissolves on its own inside your scalp after they grow.

Scientist thinking about resolving hair cloning issues

What hair cloning issues are yet to be resolved?

According to some scientists, there are still several problems that need to be solved before hair follicle neogenesis can be successfully used to treat human hair loss. These include [3]:

  • Identifying a way to induce hair follicle growth via stem cells in humans, as so far, it has only been achieved in rats.
  • Ensuring that the methods used to grow the much smaller rat hair follicles (1 mm) can also work to develop human hair follicles, which are up to 5 mm in size and structurally different from those of rodents.   
  • Overcoming the challenge that adult stem cells of both rats and humans are recalcitrant to forming new hair follicles (unlike the newborn stem cells which have been successfully used so far). 
  • Developing hair cloning techniques that are practical and predictable for large-scale use in a clinical setting. So far, most experiments have encountered technical difficulties or proven too invasive or complex to provide feasible hair loss treatment. 
  • Identifying a way to successfully inject the scalp with dermal papillae (DP) cells (specialised cells that regulate hair growth), as so far, this process has been unsuccessful. Hair growth was only achieved in rats when these cells were inserted under the skin through an incision.
How soon hair cloning can be expected

How soon can you expect to get your hair cloned?

Reports from the industry say the first human hair cloning trials are scheduled to start in the near future [8] However, this means that it could take years before obtaining satisfactory results and even longer before this therapy is perfected and approved by regulatory bodies for large-scale human treatment. 

If you are currently experiencing hair shedding, you may want to look into available, tried-and-tested hair growth treatments, such as a natural-looking hair transplant. While it may one day provide a cure for baldness, hair cloning technology is unlikely to become available to the general public within a decade. 

Scientist developing new hair restoration method

Other promising hair restoration methods in development

Hair cloning is not the only attempt at curing baldness that is currently being researched. There is also a similar technique called autologous cell therapy for hair loss. This method does not rely on cells extracted from your hair follicles to achieve hair regrowth.

Instead, it involves extracting stem cells from other sources, such as your fat tissue and injecting them into your balding areas [9]. This should help repair your damaged hair follicles or produce new ones, as the stem cells transform into the kind of cells that hair follicles are made of.

So far, there have been some successful (albeit small-sized) human trials where cells extracted from patients’ fat tissue were used to treat their hair loss. One study showed significant hair density improvement in 9 patients with androgenetic alopecia treated with autologous cell therapy for 6 months [10].

However, this method is still being perfected and it is not yet available for large-scale commercial use due to its very high cost and the need for further human testing. 

Hair transplant as an alternative to hair cloning

Effective present-day alternatives to getting your hair cloned

Once you have noticed the first signs of hair thinning and balding, the best thing you can do is to see a hair doctor. They will perform a thorough examination of your scalp and hair and run all the necessary trichology tests (e.g. a dermoscopy, a hair pull test or blood tests for hair loss) to determine the reason your hair is falling out.

Once they have established a diagnosis, they can recommend one of the many evidence-based hair growth treatments that have been extensively researched and found safe and effective. Depending on your condition, these may include:

A hair transplant

Surgical hair restoration may be the closest alopecia treatment to hair cloning. That is because it involves harvesting healthy hair follicles from the back or sides of your head and implanting them in your balding areas.

If you choose FUE surgery, there is virtually no scarring, so you can easily get a hair transplant without anyone knowing. The procedure is simple, safe and has proven results – the best hair transplant clinics in the UK have a 97-100% success rate. If you want to see for yourself, check out our before and after hair transplant gallery.


This popular treatment dilates the small blood vessels in your scalp. This allows more oxygen and nutrients to flow to your hair roots, providing the necessary resources to stimulate your hair follicles for growth. Minoxidil is versatile, as it can help androgenetic alopecia, alopecia areata, telogen effluvium, medication-induced hair loss and more. 


This drug is one of the most frequently prescribed and most efficient medications for male pattern baldness. Finasteride works by reducing the levels of DHT in your blood. It is also effective against female pattern baldness, but premenopausal women cannot use Finasteride, as it can cause birth defects and hormonal imbalances.

Steroid creams 

Ointments that contain corticosteroids can be used to reduce scalp inflammation and curb the symptoms of autoimmune conditions, such as alopecia areata, scalp psoriasis or discoid lupus. In more advanced cases, steroid creams may not suffice, so intralesional steroid injections can be used for more effective results.

Red light therapy 

This form of low-level laser therapy can stimulate the cell mitochondria in your scalp, activating them and helping them transport more energy to your hair follicles. Red light therapy for hair growth can also dilate your capillaries to increase blood flow to your hair roots through a similar mechanism as Minoxidil.

PRP hair treatments  

A small quantity of blood is harvested from your arm and the platelet-rich plasma is separated from the other blood components. It is then injected into the balding areas of your scalp. PRP hair treatments are effective because platelet-rich plasma contains many growth factors which can help increase hair density and develop the small blood vessels in your scalp.  

Man hoping that hair cloning works

How much hope should you invest in hair cloning?

If you are wondering whether there is hope to cure baldness in the future with hair follicle neogenesis, then yes, there definitely can be. The prospects are promising and the research is surely worth following through. However, if you hope to use this technology to treat your hair loss in the foreseeable future, the odds are nowhere near as good.

Keep in mind that hair cloning is still in its infancy. It has a long way to go and much to prove before it’s perfected, approved and available to the general public. Every moment you are not treating your hair loss, it can progress and become increasingly difficult to hide and regrow your thinning hair. Should hair follicle neogenesis prove itself unsuccessful or unfeasible, your window for hair restoration may close, and you may find yourself out of options.

Given that a hair transplant is permanent, tried and tested, it can solve your hair loss problem in the present. Book a consultation today with our world-class surgeons and find out if you are eligible for a hair restoration procedure. And if you can benefit from this surgery, you may still be enjoying your hair transplant after 10 years, when hair cloning may or may not have become available.

Hair Cloning: Potential Cure for Baldness or Sci-Fi  Dream?, Wimpole Clinic

Dr Mir Malkani
Medically reviewed by Dr Mir MalkaniUpdated on June 5, 2024
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
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