Genetic hair loss happens because the DNA of some men and women has a ‘pre-programmed’ sensitivity to a testosterone by-product named DHT. This substance attacks hair follicles located around the top of their head, gradually weakening these hairs, causing thinning and – particularly with men – can lead to eventual baldness.
But what if the genetic markers that lead to this thinning hair could be silenced? Better still, if they could be erased, so that cells were able to function without impediment?
Science fiction becomes fact
If it sounds like the stuff of science fiction but what is becoming increasingly evident with each passing year is that what people were dreaming of just a few years ago is becoming true today. In December 2015 researchers in the US demonstrated a way to change the genetic rulebook with their CRISPR gene-editing technique which was hailed as one of the most significant scientific breakthroughs in recent times.
Millions – if not billions – of men and women around the world are affected by genetic hair loss, better known as Male Patten Baldness or Female Pattern Hair Loss. The condition is far from rare and manifests as thinning hair which presents diffusely across the top of the head in women, often creating an increasingly wider parting. In men it tends to affect more specific areas, causing a receding hairline, thinning along the top of the head or a thinning crown, for example.
Although there are clinically-proven hair loss treatments for both conditions which have been seen to be highly effective and produce significant regrowth results for both men and women, the idea that genetic hair loss could be “switched off” before it began is extremely appealing.
Doctors at the University of Michigan Medical School are leading the charge with new “eraser drugs” which have shown in mice that a certain compound – adapted from a drug developed to treat leukaemia – can step in and say “no” to what nature intends. Futurity.org explains it like this: “If you use it right, it can erase the tiny labels that tell cells where to start reading important chapters in DNA, their inner instruction manual. And if they can’t read that manual, the cells regain their full stem cell power – the power to become any kind of cell in the body.”
The researchers have now invited other scientists to try their drug and expand on their work, the obvious inference being that the technology could one day be use on humans.
Scientific collaboration also lies behind the successful development of the most-readily used hair loss drugs currently available.
Finasteride 1mg, the daily oral tablet for men that is designed to help stop the production of DHT, was initially developed to treat prostate conditions including BHP – which it still does when taken in much larger doses; whilst Minoxidil started out as a treatment for high blood pressure before being refined into a number of topical preparations which were found to be effective unisex hair loss treatments, particularly when used in high strength formulations.
A hair loss clinic can explain the rather fascinating scientific history behind these treatments in more detail, as well as offering advice, guidance on the best components and hair growth boosters for each individual, and on-going support – including photographic monitoring – throughout the regrowth journey.
These are exciting times for those who work in the field of hair loss research. Just last week a US company announced a strong commitment to research into using JAK inhibitors – a group of drugs actually developed to treat cancers and rheumatoid arthritis – on male and female pattern hair loss, as well as baldness caused by the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata.
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.