A new treatment for baldness shows promise for men -- and women

It's a safe bet that whatever else we've reported tonight, this will be the story that people will be talking about -- a new treatment for baldness, in men and women.

Scientists have developed what might become a better way to transplant hair.

Cells are grown in a Petri dish
CBS News

The way we do it now, we're really relocating hair follicles from one part of the body to the other - usually from the back of the scalp to the front. But the problem is you don't have enough hair follicles. Women in particular often don't have enough donor hairs.

Instead of transplanting the hair follicles, researchers at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City and Durham University in the United Kingdom took the cells at the base of the hair that make the hair follicles. And they figured out a very clever way to multiply those outside of the body in a Petri dish. They then took those -- now you have a lot more of them -- and transplanted them onto human skin that's grafted onto the back of mice. Four to six weeks later, there was hair growing.

Hair is grown on the backs of mice
CBS News

We're talking about human hair grafted onto the back of mice, so there are still some technical difficulties to look at. And one in particular was interesting: What about the normal hair cycle? After that initial hair falls out, will another one grow back? They're not sure.

Clinical trials are three to five years away.

  • Jonathan LaPook

    Dr. Jonathan LaPook is the chief medical correspondent for the CBS Evening News. Follow him on Twitter at @DrLaPook