Ever been in the shower and seen gobs of hair come out when you rinse? How about when you comb your hair or when you take off a ball cap? It’s a problem millions of men face — male-pattern baldness — and it might seem as if there’s nothing you can do about it, but don't lose hope just yet.
While it’s not hard to find horror stories on the internet or television about men who reach for the stars to get their mop back (including anything from toupees to toxic spray-ons), they’re all looking for the same thing: a “cure” of sorts to baldness. And while there is no cure for male-pattern baldness now, there are some promising treatments to be released in the near future that just might bring that idea to life. What's the best part? These future balding treatments are already in development and on their way.
Here are a few future balding treatments you’ll likely see in the coming years with the advancement of science and technology regarding men and hair loss.
Hair Cloning (hair multiplication)
Hair multiplication (or follicular cell implantation) involves reproducing healthy hair follicles and distributing them in numbers large enough to completely eliminate male-pattern baldness. It is the modern, up-to-date version of your traditional hair transplant in the sense that they borrow from existing spots on your head to fill in the gaps. However, rather than simply move the hairs around to new spots, new hairs are created making the possibility of thick, wavy hair more attainable.
Hair follicles have a property similar to plants when the “cutting” method of reproducing is used: If a follicle is split in two, it can essentially take the form of two new hairs if cultured and grown correctly. The hair can then be replicated thousands (or millions) of times over, and then either injected back into the scalp and grown from scratch to rejuvenate current hair follicles or transplanted back onto the head.
This future balding treatment is still in the development stages and that’s why you haven’t seen any products on the shelf just yet. However, companies like the Britain-based Intercytex are developing a cell therapy process for male-pattern baldness, and in June 2008, the company announced a successful phase II trial of its hair implantation tests.
Baldness be gone: Intercytex predicts treatment to be available within five years (before 2013).
One of the best ways to guarantee luxurious locks of hair is to avoid losing them in the first place — sorry for all those who have a shine on their scalp already. Genetic testing is the way of the future for preventative male-pattern baldness treatments.
Male-pattern baldness is a common problem in males: About two-thirds of men experience some degree of baldness by the time they reach their 60s. Of course, baldness can start anywhere from a man’s teenage years all the way to retirement and beyond. Therefore, getting to the root of the problem (no pun intended) might be your safest bet to keeping your hair.
Men who inherit two particular genetic variants are seven times more likely to become bald, according to researchers who analyzed the human genome for the DNA strain that causes male-pattern baldness.
deCODE Genetics, an Icelandic company, is currently developing a personal genotyping service. If it is noted that you are susceptible to the genes that cause baldness, preventative treatments can follow such as Rogaine, Propecia or Dutasteride. Understanding male-pattern baldness and its hereditary patterns will be critical to solving androgenic alopecia and better, less-invasive treatments.
Baldness be gone: Personal genotyping is already available from deCODE, but baldness diagnostics will be available within the next two to three years (2010 to 2011).
Prior to 2007, science revealed that regeneration was a possibility in only select animals, such as salamanders and newts. It wasn’t until scientists at the University of Pennsylvania were studying wound reparation on mice that they discovered that hair follicles could regenerate by “re-awakening” genes that were once active only in developing embryos. Amazingly, when the wound begins the healing stage, it triggers an “embryonic stage” in which non-hair-follicle (epidermal) stem cells are sent to the wound area to repair the injury. The skin becomes receptive to wnt (wingless) proteins that are essential for hair follicle development. This window of opportunity allows scientists to manipulate the amount of wnt and other protein types to stimulate hair follicle growth (or conversely, stymie it if hair growth is not wanted). Another interesting conclusion they came to was that this can be achieved with little to no scarring. This process to treating male-pattern baldness also has the potential to treat other hair disorders and forms of alopecia.
A patent is now out for this process of follicle neogenesis, and a company called Follica Inc., which includes scientists in the original wounding experiment, is heading up the project. While the treatment is still years away, and may cross paths with the idea of hair multiplication, pre-clinical trials are already underway.
Baldness be gone: There is no determinable date as to when this might be available given that trials can last years. As soon as 2015 or 2018 could be a possibility, but that’s being generous.
A “cure” for baldness in both men and women may not be an accurate word to use in the case of these technologically driven treatments. However, treatments are what they are: They are forms of therapy that can be used to help keep the hair you have or grow a new 'do. There are plenty of hair-brained products (pun fully intended) out on the market designed to fool the consumer, but real progress is being made to find safe, lasting and fulfilling solutions to male-pattern baldness. In the meantime, appreciate the Bruce Willises and Jason Stathams of the world and embrace your look no matter how full-headed or sparse it is.
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