The Future of Treating Hair Loss & Grey Hair
Scientists around the world are relentlessly searching for new approaches to treating grey hair and hair loss. Although there are several promising treatments now being clinically examined, the progress seems to be slower than expected. There may be multiple reasons for that, with unrealistic expectations being the foremost. Unfortunately, it appears that most new drug developments finish in the phase II. clinical stage. Nevertheless, there are some promising treatments being currently developed that either alone or in combination with other existing treatments could significantly improve options for treating grey hair and baldness. Most of them should hit the market at the beginning of the next decade.
NEOSH101 is a novel, hair growth stimulant that was originally developed by the US-based, dermatology-focused, pharmaceutical firm, Neosil. However, in October 2008, Neosil was acquired by Peplin, Inc., a development stage specialty pharmaceuticals company and since then no information on the further progress of the clinical trials has been released. NEOSH101 happens to be half way through phase II. clinical trials. Results so far have been encouraging, showing that it is a more powerful and faster-acting, hair growth stimulant than minoxidil or any other existing drug or alternative treatment. NEOSH101 may not become the ultimate cure for baldness but if its effectiveness is confirmed in later studies, it could dramatically improve patient's chances of regrowing lost hair.
Telomerase is an enzyme that adds specific DNA sequence repeats to the end of DNA strands in the telomere regions, thus placing natural caps on telomeres, protecting them from shortening. Shortening telomeres are associated with premature aging syndromes and it is believed that protecting their ends might hold the key to extending our youth. Telomerase activity is the most general molecular marker for the identification of human cancer and can be detected in 90% of all tumours, whereas most healthy tissues exhibit little or no telomerase expression. Hence, inappropriate activation of telomerase is believed to cause cancer. The main focus of telomerase research is obviously on early identification and treatment of cancer but its potential for treating premature aging conditions, including premature grey hair and baldness, is also being examined.
Hair Multiplication (Hair Cloning)
Hair multiplication may be the next big step in surgical hair restoration. It is often referred to as hair cloning or follicular neogenesis. This procedure involves extracting hair follicle cells from the hair at the back of the head, culturing and multiplying them and injecting the new hair cells into the pores of dormant hair follicles in the balding area. Such cells are capable of restoring hair growth in the bald scalp. It is not yet known whether this process rejuvenates the existing dormant follicles or creates new ones. It seems it might do both. The main benefit of hair multiplication would be an unlimited supply of new donor cells. The current uncertainties that must be yet resolved are that there is no guarantee that the induced hair will grow in the right direction and that it will have the same thickness and colour as the existing hair so as to look natural.
Generating New Hair Follicles in Wounds of Hair-Free Skin
This novel approach consists in generating completely new hair follicles in wounds of hair-free skin. Follica, a US-based medical device company, is developing this technology that was licensed from the University of Pennsylvania. It is claimed that translating the research into a treatment for humans involves only devices and drugs that are already available on the market. Because the components of the system are already approved, the regulatory path is thought to be relatively straightforward. In view of the latest positive news, it appears that this technique might be commercially available earlier than hair multiplication.