Dermatologist Dr Satish Bhatia, who practises out of his Cooperage clinic, started the European treatment around three months ago. Stem cells are known to take on the role of skin (or hair), bone and muscle. We use stem cells derived from fatty tissues that already know their role and won’t grow into tumours, he says. His concoction is imported from Italy, costing Rs 25,000.If the patient wants his/her own stem cells to be derived from his/ her own fat cells, then the cost goes up four times, he adds.
Dr Bhatia believes growth factors and stem cells are the next big things in hair care. People are sick of hair transplants, which have a bushy appearance and look artificial. One of 10 persons undergoing a transplant complains of side effects such as swelling and infection. So stem cell injections that cause local swelling and redness for only 48 hours are welcome, he adds. So, how do the new technologies work According to the doctors, they release the bodys basic engineering unit-read proteins-to coax hair growth.
Hair works on a biochemical rhythm. Hair follicles grow on the interactions between the dermis and epidermis (the two layers of the skin).Factors from the hair root shoot signals that are instrumental in the three-stage growth of each hair. The signalling is done by the network of capillaries surrounding the base of the hair follicle that delivers the nutrients amino acids, vitamins, minerals necessary for proper functioning, say Dr Kapoor and Dr Shome. It is this biochemical signal that the duo-claim to have developed.
The QR 678 story began in Tata Memorial Hospitals Kharghar research unit. We were researching the use of nano-particles to cure retinoblastoma, a cancer of the retina. After injecting the particles near the eyes of mice, we found that hair around the eyes had fallen, suggesting that local factors could play a role, said Dr Shome. He felt that the reverse local factors triggering hair growth could also work.
But to isolate one of the hundreds of local protein growth factors that caused hair growth or hair loss was a mammoth task. Over 18 months, we identified five growth factors and, with the help of IIT-B scientists, synthesised different compositions and proportions, said Dr Kapoor.
A pilot trial among 25 cancer patients with hair loss showed growth. Thereafter, bigger trails showed over 80% hair growth in about six months in over 90% patients who tried this injection therapy, said the doctors. Over 700 persons have already undergone QR 678 therapy.
Plastic surgeon Dr R Rajput, who specializes in hair transplants, feels that the new methodologies be it stem cells or epidermal growth factor shave a role to play in hair regeneration .“These methods can only help patients who are not bald. They can have a thinning hairline, but if their hair roots are dead, then there is no technology that can revive it, he says.
The duo, however, claims that their concoction works even on those who have been bald for a while, provided there are some microscopic hair still present in the follicles.
Hair Transplant: Small pieces of hair-bearing scalp from the back of the head are transplanted to balding spots. Doctors take small portion of the scalp from either the back or side of the head and move them into the slits on the top of the head. This is called hair grafting, punch grafting, plug grafting or hair transplantation. At times, doctors transfer flaps-a larger portion-to the balding areas.
Hair Additions: This is a hair-bearing contraption that is added to the existing hair or scalp to give a fuller head of hair appearance. These additions could be in the form of hair weaves, hair extensions, hair pieces, toupees, non-surgical hair replacements, partial hair prostheses, hair wefts etc.
Hair fall can be traumatic more so for a person in Showbiz. Singer anaida knows the feeling too well: Over the years, she realised she was suffering massive hair fall. I tried several therapies, even using minoxidil, “she said. But none helped. She then heard about mesotherapy (injecting medicines into scalp) in a Singapore spa. I was surprised to hear them say they had imported the drug from Apollo Hospital in Hyderabad, she said. Her treatment with QR678 is more than half way through. But I can feel my hair growing thicker. Isn’t she worried about side-effects Doctors assured me it doesn’t even get into the blood stream, ”she said”.