Health & Wellbeing

Wearable LED device could regrow hair

People may conceivably one day use the technology to treat baldness in their own homes
People may conceivably one day use the technology to treat baldness in their own homes
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People may conceivably one day use the technology to treat baldness in their own homes
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People may conceivably one day use the technology to treat baldness in their own homes
In lab tests, the device was tested on the shaved backs of mice
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In lab tests, the device was tested on the shaved backs of mice

Studies have already shown that by irradiating bald skin using red lasers, hair follicles can be stimulated into growing new hair. Unfortunately, though, such laser setups are large, cumbersome and energy-inefficient. With that in mind, scientists have developed a wearable LED photostimulator.

Led by Prof. Keon Jae Lee, scientists from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) created a flexible array of 900 vertical micro-light-emitting diodes (μLEDs). The whole array fits onto a chip that's "slightly smaller than a postage stamp," is just 20 micrometers thick, and can withstand up to 10,000 bending/unbending cycles.

Additionally, the μLEDs don't heat up enough to damage human skin, and use one one-thousandth the power per unit area as a traditional phototherapeutic laser.

In lab tests, the device was tested on the shaved backs of mice. After 20 days of 15-minute once-daily treatments, the animals regrew their fur significantly faster than shaved mice that received no treatment, or that were getting hair-growth-promoting minoxidil injections. The μLED-array mice also regrew hair over a wider area, and the hairs were considerably longer.

It is now hoped that a larger version of the device could someday be used by humans in their own homes on a daily basis, as opposed to their making trips to use laser systems at clinics.

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal ACS Nano, in which images of the μLED array can be seen.

Source: American Chemical Society via EurekAlert

7 comments
BartyLobethal
Those mice were going to re-grow their hair anyway - they weren't suffering from baldness any more than a teenage skinhead. Garbage study in the service of selling a junk product to the insecure.
Trylon
I assume there's something special about having direct contact with the skin. Otherwise, I would build something like a salon hair dryer that I could sit under, with a hemispheric array of regular 5mm LEDs, some kind of light diffusion system like HDTV edge-lit backlights have and a fan-based forced air cooling system. For 15 minutes a day, sitting under it would be tolerable.
toyhouse
Enough with the hair and teeth regrow breakthrough teases. I've been reading these stories for decades while teeth and hair fade into the history books. And still,...nothing but more breakthrough stories. Look at what you might be able to do one day! Wear a hat and grow your hair back. Then it vanishes into the ether and on to the next breakthrough. It's a cruel joke someone is having somewhere.
RobWoods
Yes, I agree with Barty and Toyhouse, that what we need is a complete new product or system that would grow hair for bald people who would otherwise never grow hair again. This would be a real breakthrough alright!
SiteGuy
OK, folks. Time to get factual here. The use of red LEDs to encourage new hair growth in balding individuals has been known in the DIY community for almost a decade. In fact the homemade treatment, which involved building a kind of helmet that was was lined with hundreds of discrete red LEDs emitting light at a particular colour/frequency, was powered by a modified computer power supply which supplied 3.3 volts DC at a high amperage for the extensive LED array. I got halfway to building one (in the sense that I acquired all of the parts and paraphernalia necessary to assemble a home baldness treatment unit) but never followed through—probably because at that point there had been no published studies proving the efficacy of such treatments. I guess I wasn't desperate enough to build the thing without some kind of assurance that it wasn't a colossal waste of time and energy. But here at last is some serious research that gives some weight to the idea that there is actual science behind the concept. Maybe it's time to dust off the plans and actually build the thing. I'll bet there's some serious commercial potential in such a product as well.
guzmanchinky
What about the miracle cream they were developing at UCLA?
Trylon
After seeing SiteGuy's comment, I looked online and saw that there are actually several helmet-style devices for hair regrowth treatments at home that have been on the market for years now, including the iRestore, iGrow, Capillus and Theradome. Which makes me wonder what is supposed to be the advantage of this. Flexibility doesn't seem to be essential for the treatment, and Capillus is already flexible anyway. I doubt these flexible PCBs will cost less than the full retail of the commercially available rigid helmets, and you can buy a refurbished iGrow at Walmart.com for $169. These products already run off a standard 5w USB adapter, so high power consumption isn't a problem. What makes this special?