With millions of men and women worldwide anxiously awaiting a hair loss cure, the first to market with a viable solution will no doubt reap huge rewards. Today, the greatest hope for such a cure may lie in stem cell research. Virtually unheard of only a few years ago outside of the medical field, stem cells have now become a household term. Promising to do everything from regrowing limbs to curing disease, stems cells may also provide the key to hair multiplication (HM).
With an eye toward developing such revolutionary treatments, Histogen Inc. opened its doors in 2007. Histogen is a regenerative medicine company that has been developing a series of products based on proprietary bioreactors (systems that support a biologically active environment) that mimic the embryonic environment but do not contain embryonic stem cells or animal components of any kind. This is good news because it avoids the controversy surrounding embryonic stem cell research that has caused periodic disruptions in government funding.
While there are a number of products in development at Histogen, the one that is of most interest to hair loss sufferers is their Hair Stimulating Complex (HSC). Currently being developed and evaluated as an injectable for hair growth, a single injection applied to one area of the balding scalp is reported to produce a 20% increase in terminal hairs that are expected to then grow for a period of time equal the duration of the patient’s original hair. In other words, if the patient lost his original hair after 30 years, the newly formed hair follicles should also last for 30 years.
Histogen announced the one year data findings of its HSC pilot clinical trial on August 13, 2010. Their findings demonstrated that “statistically significant” new hair growth was seen in patients one year after a single treatment with HSC. They also claim that, in addition to the number of new hairs, characteristics such as hair thickness and terminal hair density also appeared to increase. While the specific mechanisms that result in the development of hair follicles are still being investigated, Dr. Jonathan Mansbridge, Histogen’s Chief Scientific Officer, had this to say, “â€¦several factors critical to hair growth, such as Wnt 7a, follistatin, VEGF and KGF, are present in the HSC and their secretion by the cells is stimulated by the culture conditions we use. The embryonic conditions under which our cells are manufactured not only upregulates genes associated with hair growth, but induces significantly more production of these critical factors than seen with other culture conditions.”
Histogen’s next phase of clinical trials is set to begin in Singapore in the first quarter of 2011. Assuming the second phase of clinical trials goes well; Histogen hopes to have approval in Asia by 2014 with introduction of the injectable for hair regrowth in the U.S. market by 2015. While this news is exciting, it’s important to keep it in perspective. Over the years, many promises to solve the hair loss dilemma have gone unfulfilled. Rather than awaiting the next breakthrough which may or may not come anytime real soon, today’s hair loss sufferers may want to consider taking advantage of existing, proven medical treatments such as Rogaine (minoxidil) and Propecia (finasteride) in order to take control of their balding. Some patients with more advanced hair loss may also consider hair transplant surgery or even a non-surgical hair replacement system.
David – aka TakingThePlunge
Assistant Publisher and Forum Co-Moderator for the Hair Transplant Network, the Hair Loss Learning Center, the Hair Loss Q&A Blog, and the Hair Restoration Forum
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