Hair loss disease inflicts more people than we know. Its effect on the patient, which may seem negligible, is more serious than we can imagine. Some lives have actually been lost and marriages shattered because of this, not to mention the emotional pain that it inflicts upon the patient’s spirit and self-esteem. This being so, researchers have been looking for the perfect cure over the years. This explains the importance of hair loss research.
Although at present, we see the development of better and more effective cosmetic and surgical treatments, these are merely corrective and they do not focus on the main cause of the problem. That is why the trend in hair loss research is towards the root of the cause, which is gene therapy.
Since androgenetic alopecia is the most prevalent form of hair loss disease, researchers are now studying gene biology to understand cell behavior and to correct, if they can, its sensitivity to dihydrotestosterone or DHT. If the genes that you inherit from your parents are sensitive to DHT, then you are most likely to suffer from androgenetic alopecia. Through gene therapy, the present cells of the body are changed, so cell functions are likewise altered. Through it, genes that are sensitive to DHT can now actually be resistant to it. This process, however, is rather long and complicated. First, the genes need to be identified. After identification, you need to know the changes to be made to achieve the desired effect, which is to destroy these “bad” genes. Lastly, these new cells need to be incorporated with the rest of the cells. At present, more tests are being conducted, as more work need to be made and some areas need to be refined. It is estimated that the treatment will not be available for a few more years.
Hair transplant and hair cloning
While this form of treatment has been available for quite sometime, developments have been made in making it more natural-looking. Compared to the old plugs of the past, now we have single-graft transplants and even micrografts.
In hair transplant, surgeons use the person’s own hair. But what happens if there are only a few strands of hair available, or there are no more hair strands at all? This is where hair cloning comes in. Hair cloning is the theory of taking hair follicle cells from the scalp, cultivating it in a laboratory, and then implanting them onto the scalp. At present, researchers are working on cultivating hair in the laboratory, which is yet to happen. Also, surgeons must also develop the technique of implanting the hair in a certain direction so that hair follicles are stimulated and hair continues to grow even after it falls off. Another aspect that researchers are looking into is the possibility to have a “donor” for the hair cloning. When there is no more hair follicle available, the patient’s only option is to “receive” hair from another person. Researchers are looking into this possibility. They found that it is important for both to be compatible or immunologically matched. If they are not compatible, then chances are the new hair may be “rejected” by the recipient’s body. Still, more tests are being conducted in this field.
Hair loss research is as important as research for other diseases. Ask your doctor for developments in hair loss research. In a few years, we may never know what new treatments or medications may be available for you.