When it comes to hair loss
in women, the causes and influencing factors generally have a far wider-reaching scope than is commonly seen in men.
Genetics, hormones, stress, hairstyles and chemicals are just a few of the elements that can either cause or exacerbate various forms of thinning hair in women
In July 2018 regenerative medicine company Histogen Inc, announced the launch of a Phase I clinical trial into a stem cell solution designed to be injected into the scalp to address these multitudinous types of hairloss.
Areas of the scalp affected by specific women's hair loss conditions
Scalp injections of Hair Stimulating Complex
Known as Hair Stimulating Complex, or HSC660, the product had an Investigational New Drug (IND) application approved
by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in May 2018. This allowed the company to move on to the first clinical trial stage, which will be held in Southern California under the direction of Principal Investigator, Dr. Kimberly Butterwick, and is currently recruiting participants.
This will be a small-scale randomized, blind trial - using a placebo control - consisting of 27 volunteers who will have their scalps injected with HSC660. The frequency and number of injections per session have not yet been divulged.
The team hopes to establish how effective this novel treatment, which involves a growth factor solution to stimulate hair follicles into new hair growth and 'sustained hair viability' - is in treating diffuse women's hair loss. This term usually refers to a condition known as Chronic Telogen Effluvium
, which presents as thinning hair from all over the scalp, as opposed to just the top of the scalp, as is the case in genetic hair loss, or in suddenly occurring patches, as per Alopecia Areata.
Given Chronic Telogen Effluvium, also known as Diffuse Thinning, is a temporary hair loss condition
that can clear up of its own accord, it will be interesting to see how the efficacy of this solution is measured.
A previous version of HSC660 has already been tested in two completed clinical trials outside the USA which were smaller than this new women's study. Although this was used to predominantly treat men with Male Pattern Baldness
, five of the participants were women. It was previously assumed that these women all had Female Pattern Hair Loss
, however, it is now apparent that they had what the company has described as 'varying types of hair loss'.
Women's hair loss treatment preferences
Consumer research has shown that when it comes to anything to do with our appearance, women are more likely to invest time in a solution they are comfortable with, whereas men look for a 'quick fix'
. Men will undergo injections for treatments where non-invasive options are available, if they think it will give them instant, or near-instant results worth the temporary discomfort. Women are generally less likely to agree with this approach.
Given there is currently no cure for hair loss, only effective options for its management, there isn't such as thing as a 'quick fix' for thinning hair in men or women. Even a hair transplant
- something women are increasingly exploring
- requires daily maintenance in order to preserve results.
Generally, the first step employed by hair specialists in order to recommend appropriate hair loss treatments
, is to establish the precise condition and cause of an individual's shedding.
Female clients are often advised to have a blood test
to assess the likelihood of some common underlying issues which may be causing or aggravating hair thinning, including low iron levels.
Once the hair fall's trigger has been identified, it can be dealt with - for instance a dietary concern can be rectified, or an illness can be diagnosed and treated - and where appropriate, treatment can then be used as advised.
We look forward to hearing more about the Histogen trial results and whether these Hair Stimulating Complex scalp injections may be deemed sufficiently safe and efficient to be considered a primary treatment in their own right, or - as is currently the case with PRP injections
- a secondary therapy which is only truly beneficial when used alongside the current MHRA-licensed and FDA-approved hair loss treatment medications.