One of the main enemies of anyone who enjoys having a full head of hair is something called Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a by-product of testosterone which has no useful function in adult life. Instead, one of the things DHT can do is to stop hair follicles growing hair in men and women with a predisposition to genetic hair loss.
Miracle cures for hair loss?
Today, male and female pattern hair loss is treatable, but scientists around the world are always looking for new solutions. With up to half of the world’s male population affected by Male Pattern Baldness by the time they are 50, the potential rewards for “miracle” cures are virtually limitless.
While one day we might be able to stave off androgenetic alopecia forever, perhaps with a single injection or, better still, a sweet-tasting pill, the scientific community isn’t there yet. Here are some of science’s more interesting recent developments…
Scalp plucking leads to new growth
Hitting the headlines in April was a story about research from a medical team at the University of Southern California who found that plucking hairs in a specific way could make even more of them spring up in the same place. In a study using mice, the team reported that in one case they were able to regenerate 1,300 hairs by plucking 200. The regrowth was found to have been caused by chemical distress signals produced by the “shock” of having each hair plucked out. It cleverly kick-started hairs in the resting phase of the hair growth cycle back to the growth stage.
While interesting and certainly an area that shows potential, the downside is that the study suggested the treatment worked best on very small areas of around half a centimetre wide and showed little success over wider areas. No one has yet confirmed if the same principle can be applied to humans. Continues below.
Innovative stem cell treatments
Research into stem cell hair loss treatments is a thriving area and one most likely to provide effective regrowth solutions in the future. RepliCel are currently in clinical trials with a treatment designed to replicate stem cells to provide hair regrowth in those affected by genetic hair loss.
Another study has already provided compelling results which showed how researchers from California’s Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute were able to use human stem cells to successfully grow new hair in mice. Wider-ranging clinical studies are expected to follow and this is definitely an area to watch.
Enzyme suppressant “promotes hair growth”
We reported some time ago about how the medical community was buzzing with news of a potential new “cure” for MPB; it was based around research into an enzyme called PGD2. The enzyme’s role in Male Pattern Hair Loss had been well known for some time, but things stepped up a gear with the announcement that scientists were looking to begin full-scale trials.
The most recent news on PGD2 comes from the University of Pennsylvania who have signed a licensing agreement with Swiss drug maker Actelion which, according to the San Fernando Valley Business Journal, gives them worldwide rights to setipiprant, a clinical stage oral drug that inhibits PGD2. The newspaper reports that these inhibitors have been shown to “extend the growth phase of the hair cycle and promote hair growth.”
Predicting hair loss allows proactive prevention
Male Pattern Baldness is a genetic trait, but people usually don’t notice that they are affected by it until hair loss is already evident. That’s not to say that by then it is too late to do anything about it, as there are a number of bespoke treatment options that have enjoyed successful results, but knowing that you carry the genetic trait in advance could mean that people are able to take proactive steps to prevent hair loss before it starts.
A team of researchers, whose findings were recently published in the PlosONE medical journal, have developed a method of predicting male pattern baldness in European men using genetic biomarkers. The initial DNA study found that results relating to participants aged 50 and over were more accurate than those relating to the younger men analysed. However, further studies will concentrate on establishing a method that can provide accurate predictions across the age brackets from 20 up.
Jonny Harris, MD of The Belgravia Centre, recently told the Daily Mail that, “DNA testing could give people a great advantage. If a test is positive then we know that someone has an 80 per cent chance of losing their hair, and that saves an awful lot of guesswork.” DNA testing for a whole range of medical conditions is slowly becoming a reality and by 2020 should be much more readily available.
The Belgravia Centre
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.