Going Underground to Help the Balding | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 30.04.2002
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Going Underground to Help the Balding

A company in the US is offering new hope for the balding. It will preserve a sample of the remaining hair on that pate deep underground, keeping it fresh for the day science devises a way to clone it.


Hair models: the envy of millions of balding people the world over

Oh, the anguish of the balding pate! Few other things can so powerfully move men to try radical and often foolish remedies that promise the full head of hair they had in their youths. The millions that men spend on these various snake-oils could likely repay the national debts of several medium-sized countries.

A new San Francisco-based company isn’t promising a miracle cure, but it is offering a way to make sure when scientists do come up with a way to clone hair, they’ll have a fresh set of strands to work with.

Hairgenics, Inc. launched their new subterranean hair storage service on Monday. For a $50 initial fee plus a $10 annual service charge, Hairgenics will store a sample of your hair in a temperature-controlled environment in a vault under a Portland, Oregon hair salon, protected from fires, floods and other acts of God.

Michael Blaylock, chief executive of the start-up, said scientists differ as to when cell repair products that could restore a balding pate to its hairy prime will be a reality. "But it’s just a matter of time," he told Reuters.

He says the difference between his company and those myriad others which prey on men’s mourning for their lost locks is that he’s not promising anything fake, no wonder cure.

"We’re not saying take this and if you’re lucky you’ll grow hair on your back," he said. "We’re saying we’ll save your hair until science can come up with a way to clone it."

Sounds simple.

"But there are no guarantees," he added.

Storage Necessary?

Hair loss experts agree that cloning human hair could become reality in five to ten years. But some say the Hairgenics approach isn’t necessary, since most balding heads retain at least some hair which could eventually be cloned.

Hayes Gladstone, director of the dermatologic surgery at California’s Stanford Medical Center, said living hair might end up being more useful than a bag of 20-year-old clippings.

But Hairgenics head Blaylock said his storage facility would make sure clients’ healthiest, thickest hair is the hair preserved for future use.

"Do you want shiny, healthy, exciting young hair?" he asked. "Or do you want the greyish older stuff?"