Toppik on 9 January 2015

The last twenty years have seen a number of improvements for people suffering the onset of hair loss:

It is obviously fair to assume that the next twenty years will be equally exciting. There are a number of options now being investigated that may be on the market at some stage in the future.

Dutasteride

Dutasteride is a drug developed by Glaxo Smith Kline currently undergoing clinical trials to evaluate its effectiveness and safety profiles. Dutasteride is similar in action to Propecia, acting as a 5 alpha reductase inhibitor. However, Dutasteride inhibits both Type I and Type II (Propecia only acts on Type II) and is expected to be considerably more effective than current treatments. However, Dutasteride’s extra strength over Propecia may come at a cost, and its effects on the male libido and erectile dysfunction are yet to be determined. The incidence of gynecomastia, or enlarging of the breasts, is also a possibility.

If the drug trials successfully it may be submitted for a new drug application to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in America, and then ultimately made available to the general public.

Cloning

cloning

Cloning involves taking a very small donor piece from the back of the scalp and then reproducing that hair-bearing skin to produce as much donor hair as required to fill any-sized bald areas.

Currently the supply of donor hair and the donor scar at the back of the scalp is the limiting factor in hair transplant procedures. Cloning will address these problems.

  • Today’s hair transplant procedures involve removing and redistributing a section of hair-bearing skin. Cloning will allow us to create completely new hairs to place into those balding areas.
  • Cloning will negate the need to take a large section of hair-bearing skin from the back of the scalp, so it will bear no significant scarring.
  • Today’s procedures generally allow us to perform around 3,000 grafts in one session. Cloning will allow us to produce as many grafts as are required to complete the procedure in one session – potentially around 10,000 grafts per operation.

The prospect of cloning is exciting, but it is likely to be some time before it is commercially available, and it will still require transplanting techniques to insert the grafts.

Gene Therapy

gene therapy

Hair loss is caused by a combination of hormones (testosterone) and ‘balding genes’ that you have inherited from either side of your family. If it were possible to remove or modify those balding genes, then theoretically you could ‘turn off’ hair loss.

Research into gene therapy is still in the embryonic stages and researchers must isolate the gene and then find a way to switch it off without causing a detrimental effect on other bodily functions. It is possible that turning the gene off may permanently reduce a person’s sex drive or not allow them to reproduce. Obviously years of development lie ahead for researchers.

RU58841

RU58841 is the name given to an experimental compound devised and patented by French pharmaceutical company Rhone Poulenc. The known method of production uses dangerous gases that are environmentally unacceptable. Alternate methods of production are possible, but to my knowledge nobody is currently undertaking this research.

RU58841 is a non-steroidal anti-androgen that blocks the action of DHT on the hair follicle. It is applied as a lotion topically to the affected area. Daily application is believed to stop hair loss in many cases, and in some cases to produce growth.

Summary

  • As research continues over the coming years, treatments for hair loss will obviously improve. However, that is no reason to delay taking action against your hair loss now.
  • If your hair loss is just starting, you could commence with Propecia to stop your hair loss and then, as treatments improve, switch over to Dutasteride if/when it becomes available.
  • If you feel that a hair transplant is your best alternative, you could have a procedure using the current technology and then update that procedure using the cloning method when it becomes available.
  • If your hair loss is concerning you now, you can take action. There is no need to hold off doing something, waiting for a better alternative. Take action now and aim to incorporate future technology as it becomes available.

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