One of the most tempting prospects for hair loss sufferers is the lure of “future” treatments. Treatments involving “stem cells, “cloned” hair follicles, and miracle injections keep the hope alive that someday we will have a true “cure” for hair loss and patients will be able to completely restore their hair through futuristic, science fiction-like technology.
Imagine if a scientist could take a small sample of your donor hair follicles, clone them in a lab, and turn a few follicles into a few thousand that could be implanted and completely restore hair! Imagine if a doctor could figure out a way to “split” the stem cells in a hair follicle in two, and use one half to implant into the scalp and leave the other half behind to “regenerate” the donor region – creating an unlimited supply of donor follicles! Imagine a stem cell-based injection capable of “reviving” hair follicles and completely regrowing hair! And imagine, greater still, if all of these cures were right around the corner and would be completely available “in the next 5 years.” If you did an online search for “future hair loss treatments” today, this is precisely what you would find: hundreds of news outlets and biotech companies promising a futuristic “cure” within the next 5 years. Unfortunately, completing the same search 5 years ago would reveal the same thing: the promise of a cure that never came to fruition. And, worse so, a search done 5 years before that would reveal the same.
Since nearly the late 1980s, hair loss researchers and eager media outlets have used the prospect of a futuristic hair loss “cure” to grab headlines, get views, and try to raise funding. Despite a significant number of very bright people working on hair follicle research, these miracle cures never materialize. And this is for one simple reason: genetic hair loss is a complex condition involving a variety of genes, hormones, stem cells, and a complicated “cascade” of molecular interactions that we still do not fully understand; and once this genetic process begins, it is very difficult to slow and thus far impossible to reverse. Furthermore, most of the very elegant potential future treatments are related to the stem cell activity in hair follicles (one of the most complex in the entire human body), and work with stem cells is complicated and possesses the potential for serious complications.
There are so many companies touting futuristic treatments who “come and go” that it is not worth trying to list and discuss them all in this article. The good news, however, is that there are still a significant number of individual researchers, biotech companies, and universities working towards new “futuristic” treatments for hair loss. And while we may not have a “cure” in “5 years,” research will continue to progress and we may see new, advanced treatments at some point in the distant future. In the meantime, however, most doctors do not recommend delaying the use of available proven hair restoration treatments today for potential future treatments which may not arrive for a very long time.