Stem cells for baldness: any progress in 2019?

stem cells baldness

stem cells baldnessStem cells for baldness? Where does that stand? Can hair loss be reversed using stem cells?

I get asked these kinds of questions regularly here on The Niche that all converge on the issue of whether there might be a stem cell treatment for baldness soon.

For that reason every couple of years I do an update on it. As someone with less hair than I used to have, I’m also just genuinely curious about this kind of research more personally.

Sadly, I haven’t heard of any new groundbreaking findings in the news or had them pop up in the published literature. At present there are 10 clinical trials listed on Clinicaltrials.gov for a search for all baldness-related trials that also mention stem cells.

There were also 10 such trials listed there in 2017 so that doesn’t suggest much of any change on the stem cells for baldness front. That post that I linked to above that I did in 2017 covers the main ideas behind stem cells for baldness in some depth so I won’t repeat those here again, but suggest you head over to that post. One key concept is that you can grow new hairs from stem cells so in theory if you transplanted stem cells into the skin in a bald area (or activate or reprogrammed cells already there), a lot of new hair might grow.

Can stem cell clinics actually treat or cure baldness today using stem cells? Nope. They just want your money so don’t waste it on that. Some of the same clinics make other claims too.There’s no reason to think that stem cells also really work to increase the size or improve the function of one’s sex organs either, although some will keep on trying it seems.

Getting back to baldness, it still makes good sense to me in general that stem cell technology should be able to combat hair loss, whether everyday loss of hair or hair loss due to disease (e.g. alopecia) or injury such as one suffered in combat. I’m really not sure why there hasn’t been more progress in the last couple years. Maybe it’s going on behind the scenes?

Bona fide clinical trials take time to really prove something is safe and effective. There are hundreds of articles on stem cells and hair on Pubmed, not all of them of course relevant to human hair or baldness, but still it’s a very active area of research.

Of course, there are drug-based approaches to baldness like propecia and minoxidil, but they are expensive, can have side effects, don’t always work, and must be taken forever. I guess there is kind of a propecia vs. minoxidil debate still ongoing as well. There are also totally bogus things out there too for baldness including some that are really painful or stupid!

Here is my (non-medical) advice. Save your money for when real, proven stem cell therapies for baldness arrive that are safe and effective. Hopefully that’s not 20 years away.

10 Comments


  1. There’s some good results coming from PRP injections into the scalp followed up by photobiomodulation therapy. Plenty of research out on that… We’ve added GHKCu peptide to the PRP soup and it seems to grow the hair back in a little faster…


  2. You make the excellent point, Dr. Knoepfler, that drugs like Propecia and Minoxidil can have side effects. With regard to especially Propecia, you are not kidding!! The main stream media does not, in my opinion, seem to be all that big on reporting the side effects of Propecia. However, I’ve read accounts of men (mostly online) who have seemingly lost their sexual functioning PERMANENTLY after having ingested Propecia.
    So, consider this. In order for Propecia, to have been made publicly available to men, it had to undergo double blind, placebo controlled, multi center, phase I – III, international clinical trials. This is a protocol that you and others on your blog endorse. Yet if sites like Pub Med are to be believed, quite a number of men patients with hair loss have been permanently injured after having ingested Propecia; a drug that more than likely had been subjected to these very sorts of testing procedures. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22789024
    I’ve read in your blog on many occasions and in the main stream/commercial/corporate press about how patients experienced permanent blindness following the introduction of autologous stem cells into their eyes. I’ve also read, even in Scientific American, about how a middle aged woman developed bony growths in her eyelids after adjacent areas in her face were injected with autologous cellular material (along with a calcium based dermal filler.) Though apparently real, these adverse medical events appear only to have occurred in, at best, a minority of patients relative to what the FDA considers a “Biological Drug” which has not met with their “rigorous” approval process. However, with respect to a bona fide drug (Propecia) which has met FDA standards, the mainstream press seems relatively silent by comparison in reporting news also of very real adverse / permanent side effects in larger quantities of people.
    Propecia and its’ generic equivalents are far less expensive than cellular therapies and therefore available to proportionately greater numbers of men who are anxious and wish to do something to correct the beginning stages of their hair loss. I’d like to see a comparison between FDA approved drugs like Propecia that have seemingly damaged some patients permanently and an unapproved “drug” (autologous stem cells) offered in about 800 clinics around the United States. Let’s allow the public to see that safety and outcome contrast between the two “drugs” and decide for themselves, free of government or corporate influence (unlike our media) which they’d rather introduce into their bodies.


    • I agree, I would love to see a side-by-side comparison of unapproved stem cell therapies versus approved drugs – but where are you going to get the data when purveyors of unapproved therapies will not or cannot present data in a comparable cohort fashion?

      As far as I can see there is no evidence for efficacy of any unapproved stem cell therapy in such a stringent “comparative” format. But maybe that´s the comparison, although somewhat binary.
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  3. I’ve been researching FUE to add some hair where it’s fading on my head and I ran across this “Ur Cell Hair Micro Transplant” which as far as I can tell is that they’re getting your own hair follicle stem cells, processing them, and then injecting them into your bald spots which they say stimulates your dormant follicles to reawaken and/or produce new ones so you will grow hair again.
    https://www.nidaskincosmetic.com/services/hair-services/ur-cell-hair-micro-transplant-thailand

    At first I thought it’s probably BS. I talked to them and (of course) they say it works and will regrow your hair. I remain skeptical and am researching to see if there’s any prof that this could work and I ran across your site. Their treatments start at about $5,600 USD equivalent so I’m not likely to chance it unless there’s some evidence that it works.

    Do you have any opinions or evidence pro or con? Thanks!

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