Quietly, however, progress churns. Joseph is the pseudonymous proprietor of the Web site Follicle Thought, a popular destination for hair-loss obsessives. Follicle Thought is dedicated to “what’s next,” Joseph told me. “What could be coming? Obviously we have other things to cure. But, like, what is the world doing about hair? Hundreds of millions of people really want it. It’s a really deep, emotional, psychological issue for people.” He paused. “I’ve put so much thought into that question.”
A little farther up the follicle is the mysterious feature called the bulge. That's where follicle stem cells live. When they get the right set of chemical signals, these self-renewing cells divide. They don't divide like normal cells, in which both halves become new cells that keep splitting and developing. Only one half of the follicle stem cell does that. The other half becomes a new stem cell, and stays put for future regeneration.
“We are extremely pleased with the continued development of the patent portfolio we exclusively licensed from Columbia. This new issuance continues to expand the breadth and depth of our JAK inhibitor intellectual property portfolio covering methods of use for certain JAK inhibitors for the treatment of hair loss disorders. The issuance of this patent is another step in the development of a robust patent portfolio relating to JAK inhibition and hair loss,”
Buckler said it started in 2003 with the academic research of Hoffmann and McElwee at the University of Marburg in Marburg, Germany. At the time they were trying to understand what was happening in the hair follicles of people suffering from androgenetic alopecia—a common form of hair loss in both men and women—or the underlying cause of hair loss.
In-office laser light treatments or at-home handheld devices, such as the HairMax LaserComb, supposedly grow new hair by stimulating blood flow to the area (think: an amped-up version of a scalp-stimulating shampoo). Just don’t expect the device to make your noggin go from looking like George Costanza’s to Jerry Seinfeld’s. “These lasers won’t grow any new hair. If anything, they may just help you hang on to some of the hair that you already have a bit longer,” says Dr. Joyce.
Managing hair loss is just as important as treating it. Now that we've talked about the different treatment options and cures available to reverse hair loss and promote increased growth, let's talk about how you can manage your condition and at the same time prevent further hair loss. The first is more psychological, while the second is more practical.
7/26/18 Update: After positive early data, various trials of JAK inhibitors such as Ruxolitinib and Xeljanz are underway. Columbia researchers have had positive results with Xeljanz in 11 out of 12 subjects achieving some regrowth with no adverse side effects over 16 months of treatment. Investigators at Stanford and Yale are conducting three trials of oral and topical tofacitnib and Locks of Love Foundation is fuding another ruxolitinib study. At this time, there are about 15 publications looking at JAK inhibitors and their relationship to alopecia and its variants.
In the initial decade after the first identification of the hedgehog gene around 1980, there was almost no research devoted to the impact of the SHH pathway upon human hair. However, this started to change in the mid-1990s (e.g., this from 1998) and culminated in the seminal work on this subject that was published in the US in 1999: “Induction of the hair growth phase in postnatal mice by localized transient expression of Sonic hedgehog“.
This is a short-term cure, applied while waiting for hair to grow, and therefore recommended for those with a mild to medium case of hair loss. In addition to being non-invasive, hair concealers and hair fibers are instant and affordable. Like wigs and hairpieces, they are used to effectively cover up balding spots while not getting in the way of growing hair. Compared to wigs, however, they are more natural looking and blend well with your natural hair, therefore drawing less attention when you're out in public.
The test involves plucking about 50 hairs from the head, typically at the back of the scalp, so your dermatologist can look at them under a microscope and determine how much of the hair is in the resting, growth, and fall-out phases. Next, a vial of blood is sent to a lab to check hormone and nutrient levels ($100 and up, depending on insurance). If low levels of iron, or high levels of male hormones, like androgens, are contributing to your hair loss, for example, both can be treated through oral supplements or medication.
As we wait and anticipate the market release of a new hair treatment there may be times when the waiting gets to us and we feel disappointed, frustrated, and even depressed. This is understandable. However, like many other times in life, a simple change of perspective can lift our mood and positively impact how we feel about a situation. When we look at these companies, are we looking at them as commodities? Are they people who owe you something? Or, are they actually rare groups of folks who are working to bring a gift to your life? How often do you really feel grateful to these companies for the work they are doing?
Hair transplants will likely lead to better results in the long run (you are introducing new hairs to the balding areas), but you’ll still need to use minoxidil or finasteride after surgery to maintain the results. Like all hair loss treatments, hair transplants are best when combined with other methods, and you’ll want to speak with your doctor to see what combination is best for you.