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There is good news for people experiencing hair loss as researchers have developed a wearable device that harnesses energy from the wearer and delivers gentle electric pulses to stimulate dormant hair follicles and regrow hair.
Because the devices are powered by the movement of the wearer, they do not require a bulky battery pack or complicated electronics.
In fact, they are so low-profile that they could be discreetly worn underneath the crown of an everyday baseball cap.
"I think this will be a very practical solution to hair regeneration," said one of the researchers Xudong Wang, Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US.
In side-by-side tests on hairless mice, the devices stimulated hair growth just as effectively as two different compounds found in baldness medicines, said the study published in the journal ACS Nano.
Based on devices that gather energy from a body's day-to-day motion, the hair growth technology stimulates the skin with gentle, low-frequency electric pulses, which coax dormant follicles to reactivate hair production.
The devices do not cause hair follicles to sprout anew in smooth skin. Instead they reactivate hair-producing structures that have gone dormant.
That means they could be used as an intervention for people in the early stages of pattern baldness, but they would not bestow cascading tresses to someone who has been as bald as a billiard ball for several years.
Explaining the hair-growth technology, the researchers said that small devices called nanogenerators passively gather energy from day-to-day movements and then transmit low-frequency pulses of electricity to the skin. That gentle electric stimulation causes dormant follicles to "wake up."
"Electric stimulations can help many different body functions," Wang said.
"But before our work there was no really good solution for low-profile devices that provide gentle but effective stimulations," Wang said.