British biotechnology firm Intercytex has developed a robot that will help treat baldness by growing new hair follicle cells.
The company has successfully tested the treatment in removing hair follicles from the back of the neck, multiplying them and then re-implanting the cells, reported the online edition of BBC News.
It initially tested the treatment on seven men with male pattern baldness, five of whom grew hair. They are to test the treatment on 20 more men.
The most common form of baldness is triggered by the male hormone dihydrotestosterone, which causes follicles to shrink and hair to thin, before it disappears altogether. At present there is very little treatment for baldness.
Intercytex chief executive Nick Higgins said that in male pattern baldness, the area at the back of the neck was unaffected by the hormone.
"We take a very small sample of the dermal papilla cells and then grow them in a special medium until we get 10,000 fold. Then we take a very fine needle and we inject them under the skin and a new hair will grow at each point of injection," said Higgins.
He added: "The cell culture growth phase takes about three weeks and involves lots of steps but we can programme the robot to do all the steps, and it can do 200 samples at once."
Higgins said they would also be testing the method in cases of alopecia, a form of hair loss in women, but said it would be about three years before the treatment would be available to the general public.