How much hair do you have? Are there any proven solutions to reduce hair loss? What are the latest advances in regrowing hair?
People have between 100,000 and 150,000 hairs on their head. The number of strands normally lost in a day varies but on average is 100. Young people regrow this hair quickly. However, by age 50, pattern hair loss affects about half of males and a quarter of females.
Keeping healthy hair may not be critical for your survival or physical health, but it is part of making you feel good each time you look in the mirror and contributes to your sense of wellbeing.
Unfortunately, over the counter medications to keep your hair are mostly ineffective. Some have risky side-effects. Of the options, Consumer Reports Health only considers topical minoxidil (Rogaine and generic) probably worth trying. When minoxidil is applied to the scalp, it stimulates hair follicles and pushes more hair into the growing phase. A 2017 review in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that men using the topical twice daily had an average increase of nearly 15 hairs per square centimeter with 5 percent minoxidil. A 2018 study found that it reduced loss for about 50% of men, but only a small percentage achieved new growth. Minoxidil usage must be continued indefinitely or the benefits are lost.
Biotin-based treatments are ineffective unless you have a rare biotin deficiency.
Prescription medications have risky side-effects. Finasteride has warnings about birth defects, libido and erectile issues. Spironolactone (Aldactone and generic) caused tumors in lab animals.
Monthly platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections into the scalp are somewhat successful, but who wants to keep doing that regularly?
Low-level laser or light therapy combs, caps, and headband devices are said to stimulate follicles. Not much data is available on their efficacy.
Fortunately, there are companies competing to launch new solutions which have few or no side-effects.
- Cosmo Pharma’s Breezula applied twice daily, showed very positive results for men for stopping hair loss and stimulating hair growth per April 2019 Phase 2 trial results. The Italian firm plans 6-month Phase 3 trials in men starting in 2H, 2022. If successful, the company may follow with further proof-of-concept trials in women. Side effects have been minimal.
- Abbvie and Exicure are pursuing preclinical development of spherical nucleic acid technology to reduce loss. Abbvie’s Allergan acquisition previously funded trials for setipiprant, but Phase IIA trials were disappointing.
- Vegamour, a UK vegan hair-care company, claims their Gro Hair Serum provides considerable benefits above Minoxidil. They conducted a small unpublished independent trial. Customer reviews on their site are mostly positive, but they use YOTPO which allows Vegamour to choose which reviews they publish.
- Follicum was a Swedish company providing a topical solution comparable in effectiveness to Minoxidil. Follicum’s advantage is it only needs to be applied once per day to achieve similar results. Follicum conducted Phase 2 trials, however results were only a hair better than placebo. Yes, 7 to 6 hairs per square centimeter actually!
- BioSplice Therapeutics attempted to develop a topical cream to treat androgenic alopecia. They started a Phase 3 trial with 625 male volunteers in Turkey in November 2018 and completed unpublished results in 2020. The research has been discontinued.
- Rivertown Therapeutics failed to show significant upside and was unable to raise funds for clinical trials.
Stem Cell Regeneration / Scalp Injections:
- RIKEN and Dr. Takashi Tsuji continue to pursue cyclical hair follicle stem cell regeneration treatments. As of mid-2021, they were seeking a commercial partner. You can find out more on this crazy video or this one which explains the crazy video in plain English.
- Shiseido sells Adenovital Scalp Essence containing adenosine, which is similar to minoxidil and popular in Asia. Shiseido’s Dr. Jiro Kishimoto is working on “Autologous cell-based therapy for hair loss using dermal sheath cup cells.”
- Follica is based in Boston and has licensed technology from UPenn to induce an “embryonic window” in adult skin via a proprietary form of micro-abrasion that initiates hair follicle neogenesis, the formation of new follicles from epithelial (skin) stem cells. Follicle neogenesis is enhanced through the application of minoxidil as part of the treatment.
- Histogen created a Hair Stimulating Complex (HSC) that is injected into the scalp. For over ten years they tried to bring their solution to market with funding from Allergan. As of 2022, they have discontinued the research.
- UCLA Research from 2017 on using stem cells for regrowth via JAK-Stat activators and pyruvate blockers. No sign this received funding for advancement.
- In 2019, Columbia University researchers used 3D printing to create hair follicles and grow hair!
Drugs and Other Approaches
- Way316606 is an osteoporosis drug which also causes hair growth. It is sold in Italy. Customer reviews are negative.
- Italian entrepreneur Giampaolo Floris has created an interesting End Hair Loss video about natural hair loss causes and treatment. He raises an interesting point about why men lose the hair on the top of their head and not the sides and back.
Keep Health will continue to monitor the progress of these interesting companies as they progress through clinical trials. There is good discussion and commentary on the following websites:
At the end of each Keep Health article, we recommend rewarding yourself for taking time to focus on your health. Here’s your opportunity to get the long rainbow wig and holographic disco leggings you’ve always wanted for your next Halloween, birthday or New Year’s Eve party. If not for you, then perhaps as a gift for someone else.