DR. COEN GHO: DRIVEN BY PASSION AND SCIENCE
Founder of Hair Science Institute – and with that also Hair Science Clinic – is the Dutch physician and researcher Dr. Coen Gho. He is an international authority in the field of hair, hair stem cells and tissue engineering. Gho is specialised in hair restoration in burn patients and developed various new therapies for hair diseases and burns in cooperation with universities and academic hospitals.
As an expert on hair stem cell transplantation he is connected to the American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery (ABHRS), the European Burns Association (EBA), the International Society of Burn Injuries (ISBI) and the European Tissue Repair Society (ETRS)
THE REVOLUTIONARY HAIR STEM CELL TRANSPLANTATION (hst) TECHNIQUE
Dr. Coen Gho is the inventor and developer of Partial Longitudinal Follicular Unit Transplantation (PL-FUT), also known as Hair Stem Cell Transplantation (HST). HST is a patented, sophisticated form of hair transplantation, developed from years of hair stem cell research. Gho discovered that only part of the hair follicle – and not the entire hair follicle, as done in FUT and FUE hair transplantation – is sufficient to form one or more hairs.
This makes it possible for new hair to grow in both the donor and recipient areas. This revolutionary technique forms the basis of the Hair Science Institute, the research and development institute with Hair Science Clinics around the world. With a never-ending drive and enormous expertise Gho works unceasingly to refine the HST technique and to make treatments more patient-friendly.
A JOURNEY THROUGH 25 YEARS OF SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH
He has dedicated his life to hair and stem cells. Worked for years with young burn patients. Developed pioneering treatments for hair diseases and burns. Is an international authority on hair stem cells and tissue engineering. Invented the revolutionary Hair Stem Cell Transplantation method and is founder of the Hair Science Institute, with clinics around the world and its own academy. Meet Dr. Coen Gho.
When we spoke to him in his workspace on the top floor of his Hair Science Clinic in Maastricht, we first talked about the aquarium in his office: “I’m going to make it saltwater and fully autonomous. I already did that with the aquarium at home. I’ve already bred koi and I’m thinking of starting shrimp.
He is talking about a hobby – one of his many – but it says it all about this man behind Hair Science Institute: Coen Gho has a huge drive, is always busy, always researching, always working towards a goal.
Transverse cross-section of a hair follicle
Partial Longitudinal Follicular Unit Transplantation
His signature technique is called Partial Longitudinal Follicular Unit Transplantation (PL-FUT). Quite a mouthful, which is why a short description is in use: Hair Stem Cell Transplantation or HST. A technique based on the potency of stem cells. Tissue from hair follicles in hairy areas is “transplanted” to bald areas. There it grows on undisturbed. An ingenious technique, unique in the world.
Hair growth of the transplanted and donor hair
What is special is that HST does not remove the entire hair follicle, but leaves hair stem cells behind in the donor area. As a result, regrowth also takes place there. By removing only part of the hair follicle, the remaining and displaced hair stem cells form new hair within a few weeks. The quality of the new hairs is the same as that of the other hairs. After the full nine-month hair growth cycle, the result is visible.
Hair stem cells
“HST makes it possible to leave hair stem cells in the donor area and at the same time extract them for transplantation into the recipient area,” says Gho. “The follicles are able to grow new hairs. In addition, the grafts (hair follicles) are much smaller compared to conventional hair transplant techniques. We harvest them using a needle with a diameter of about 0.5 millimetre. This allows us to achieve a high hair density, virtually without scarring.”
the harvested grafts are super small
The power of nature
HST uses the power of nature, the regenerative capacity of the human stem cell. A small miracle as several hairs are created from one graft. A special preservation fluid (also developed by Gho) increases the viability of grafts and gives their growth an extra boost. This integral approach is – in a nutshell – the basis of this extremely successful technique.
A great deal of research was required to get to this point, a great deal of research. Gho works closely with the Burns Centre Beverwijk, the European Tissue Repair Society and universities and hospitals all over the world. Research and clinical studies are all about hair, stem cells and tissue engineering. From his research he developed several treatments for hair diseases and burns, but also new physiological concepts in the field of cardiology, urology and neurology.
“Not many people know this, but I was once accepted at art school. In the end, it was medicine, the same study that my parents and two brothers did. I have always been able to make full use of my creativity in my work. The human body is also a work of art, so wonderful and fascinating. The fact that a human develops from a single egg cell, the ultimate voice cell, remains incredibly intriguing”.
The word has been used many times: stem cell. It is the common thread in Gho’s scientific work, which he more or less casually picked up on. “During my studies in Rotterdam, a professor asked if I could do research on follicle stem cells. A research field that was still totally unexplored in the early nineties.”
Professor Dr. Neumann
Gho, a pioneer at heart, was immediately interested. Together with dermatology expert Professor Dr. Neumann, at the time Professor of Dermatology/Flebology at Maastricht University and head of the Dermatology Department at the Maastricht University Hospital, he started experimenting with hair tissue.
“Hair stem cell research was in its infancy at the time. Almost nothing had been researched yet. We had to invent everything ourselves, self-taught. We found out that you only need a small amount of tissue to grow new hair.”
Cultivation turned out to have a lot to do with the conditions under which the cells grow. With growth factors that influence the cell – negatively or positively. “You can compare it to someone you send into the desert with a backpack containing items to endure the extreme conditions. What should be in that backpack for him to survive? That is what we researchers are doing a lot of work on: the contents of that bag. What are the best conditions and preconditions for a stem cell to develop in the best possible way?”
Result achieved with 1605 grafts, 9 months after HST treatment
Not tested on animals
There used to be a poster at the faculty: “Not tested on animals, you’re the guinea pig”, says Gho, laughing. His transplant technique has long since been proven. It is a scientifically proven technique, for which Gho also holds several patents. HST has brought him world fame.
“Most people know the term stem cell transplant from bone marrow transplants, where stem cells are extracted from bone marrow. We do the same, only we extract the stem cells from hair.”
Depending on the environmental factors, a stem cell develops into skin, cartilage or whatever. The goal is clinical application: to have the cell develop in such a way that it can be used for a medical indication. With scientifically proven effectiveness.
“After years of research on hair stem cells, we were able to demonstrate that efficacy and clinical relevance. Nowadays, there is an interesting bridge between science and my clinics. I do research and implementation, theory and practice. That’s great cross-pollination.”
Turning one hair into a hundred
Gho is still doing a lot of scientific research. Hair cloning is possibly the next step. With HST, it is already possible to duplicate hairs and achieve regrowth in the donor area. The next step would be to use stem cells to grow more hairs from one hair.
In his lab on the top floor of the Maastricht office, he is now working on what he calls the holy grail of hair transplantation: turning one hair into a hundred hairs. “If I could do that, imagine the possibilities. Women will never need extensions again.”
Rich & famous
The ultimate proof in the pudding are of course the thousands of satisfied customers who have already been treated in the Hair Science Clinics. There are now Hair Science Clinics all over the world, from Cap d’Antibes to Jakarta. Gho’s clientele is large and impressive with football stars, royal families from the super rich from Asia, Qatar, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, England and Russia.
In the Netherlands, he is known as the hairdresser for illusionist Hans Klok and singer Gerard Joling, among others. Other BN’ers who had their heads taken care of by Gho and came out for it: football player Wesley Sneijder, Demy de Zeeuw, presenter Carlo Boszhard, Bridget Maasland (for her eyebrows), Peter van der Vorst, singer Frans Bauer, make-up artist Mari van de Ven, and so on.
And for those who still don’t believe – ‘there are non-believers everywhere’ – Gho lifts the left leg of his trousers without hesitation. There, above a short black sock, is a circle of ten strong long black hairs. “I planted these on myself. To show that it works.”
As an authority in the field of hair, stem cells and tissue engineering, Dr. Coen Gho / Hair Science Institute is associated with:
HAARcentrum, Vice-Chairman, Advisory Board
American Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ASHRS)
European Burn Association (EBA)
International Society of Burn Injuries (ISBI)
European Tissue Repair Society (ETRS)
European Burns Casualties Association (EBCA)