Biotech Versus Age-Related Hair Loss

The San Francisco Chronicle looks at a strangely popular branch of regenerative research: "Some may feel sheepish raising the question, given the weightier problems needing a scientific fix. ... Industry sources estimate that Americans spend more than $1 billion a year on approved drugs for hair loss and hair transplants. That explains why a small but determined bunch of companies and academics are mining the hair shaft for clues to the molecular mechanisms of balding. They're throwing an arsenal of high-tech tools at the condition: genome studies, stem cell stimulation, gene therapy, a type of tissue engineering often called 'hair cloning' and even robotics. ... Experiments are challenging the long-held notion that new follicles are never formed in humans and that follicles can never be revived once they become inactive. ... If new follicles form on top of a bald scalp, will they have the decadeslong lifespan of a baby's follicles, or will they quickly succumb to the male hormones that caused the baldness in the first place? ... We view it as a very early, very high-risk project. But if it works, it would be great."


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