The Future of Treating Hair Loss

Men have been searching for an ultimate cure for hair loss for thousands of years but until very recently all available cures were either cosmetic cover-ups or vitamin/mineral pills and herbal lotions, with far too many of them just being scams. It was only with the advent of finasteride and minoxidil and improvements made in hair transplantation techniques in recent fifteen years that the new era began, enabling hair loss sufferers to halt the further progression of the balding process and replace the missing hair on top of their head using the hair left at the back of their scalp. However, to this day no ultimate cure for baldness is available.

There are presently several promising medical drugs and new surgical techniques under development but none of these new therapies is expected to hit the market before 2015. NEOSH101 is being developed by the US firm Neosil and it is currently undergoing phase IIb clinical trials. NEOSH101 has been shown to be a more powerful and faster-acting hair growth stimulant than minoxidil and it only needs applying once daily. Though considerably improving the current hair loss treatment options, NEOSH101 is not going to become an ultimate cure for hair loss. The clinical trials seem to be advancing slower than most hair loss patients would like and, hence, do not hold your breath for it hitting the market anytime soon. NEOSH101 is largely expected to replace minoxidil and other less powerful hair growth stimulants.

Another promising line of development is the telomerase research. Telomerase is an enzyme that is able to put natural caps on telomeres and thus protect them from shortening. Telomerase thereby helps maintain the genomic integrity. Shortened telomeres are associated with occurrence of the premature aging processes. However, the uncontrolled activation of telomerase can cause cancer. Cancer research is the main focus of the telomerase study but scientists are also seeking other applications, such as anti-aging drugs and drugs against hair loss and gray hair. Although still under development, there are already some products available on the market that seek to emulate the mechanism of telomerase action but they apparently have no scientific backing and should be avoided. Telomerase research could really change the world of medicine but its commercial application might be a good decade away.

Hair multiplication, often called hair cloning or follicular neogenesis, is the next hopeful treatment option being currently developed. This technique involves extracting the hair follicles from the back of the patient’s scalp, culturing and multiplying them in vitro and injecting the newly-grown hair cells into the bald scalp. Among several teams of scientists on three continents exploring hair multiplication, the UK healthcare firm Intercytex appears to be the frontrunner. Intercytex reported results of the latest stage of the clinical phase II study of ICX-TRC (a suspension of a patient’s own dermal papilla cells) in March 2008 and they were largely positive. The next release is expected in Q4 2008. This therapy might hit the market in 2010 at the earliest. The main benefit of hair multiplication would be solving the shortage of donor hair which is the main limiting factor in hair transplantation.

Generating hair follicles in hair-free skin wounds is an utterly new approach to regrowing lost hair. It was discovered accidentally as wounded skin in mice started producing new hair. This technology is currently being developed by the US medical device company, Follica, that licensed this technology from the University of Pennsylvania. Though this method may sound weird it only uses common medical devices and drugs that have already been medically approved and thus it might not take too long for it to become commercially available.

This is the list of only a few promising treatments for hair loss that are being currently developed but many others are in the pipeline. It seems that becoming bald will soon be by choice rather than destiny.