Every day, millions of people look in the mirror and lament their shedding strands, thinned-out tresses and denuded hairlines. But recently, researchers reported that they’ve gotten closer to cloning hair cells and getting follicles to grow after implanting them in the scalp, HealthDay News reported.

Although there are drug treatment options for people who are losing their hair, this method focuses stimulating currently existing follicles to grow longer hair. The problem with this method is that even if follicles respond to stimulation these cells may not produce the amount of hair normally generated during the growth cycle. This means patients may only see “peach fuzz” instead of the inches-long tresses they crave.

In addition, surgical methods—hair transplants in particular—also don’t get the job done. “Hair transplants just shuffle existing hair around from [the] back of the scalp to the front of the scalp,” said Luis Garza, MD, PhD, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore. “The main challenge is to grow a new hair follicle.”

Currently, the research is in its early stages. But so far scientists found that the cloned hair cells were able to produce new hair in five out of seven donor models of human skin. But many questions have yet to be answered. Some of these questions include how much hair cloning will cost, what the possible side effects are and will the technique give people the kind of hair they want.

If hair cloning works the way researchers want, this new treatment would benefit not only balding men but also women with hair loss, and people with damaged skin. “It could make hair transplantation available to individuals with a limited number of follicles,” said Angela Christiano, PhD, a professor of dermatology and genetics and development at Columbia University’s College of Physicians & Surgeons in New York City. “[This includes] those with female-pattern hair loss, scarring alopecia and hair loss due to burns.”

But researchers warned that there’s still a ways to go before science finds a solution that addresses all pertinent hair loss issues. Said Garza, “This work helps to climb the mountain, but there are miles to go and more steep terrain ahead.”

For many men with hair loss, balding may be more than just a cosmetic issue. Click here to read more.