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Brief Items of Interest, March 2017

Hair loss news first:

— The biggest news this past month is from Canada based Replicel (Japan based Shiseido’s partner), a company that I have covered dozens of times on this blog before. They just released 5-year safety data for “a high-dose of dermal sheath cup cells (DSCC) for patients with pattern baldness due to androgenetic alopecia”, which is basically their RCH-01 product. Since the injected cells are a patient’s own cells (i.e., autologous), the positive safety results are not surprising. In regards to efficacy (on a small sample size of 19 test patients –> 10 male and 9 female): “an overall stabilization of hair loss was observed among all the patients treated per protocol”. The best 10 respondents witnessed a sustained 4.2 percent increase over baseline hair density at 24 months after injection. Will be interesting to see their 5-year post injection efficacy results, since current data only covered 2 years post injection results.

The scientists involved theorize that rather than one large dose, many small doses spread over some time period will result in even superior outcomes. Results will also improve as they learn more about optimum depth of injections, make use of their new proprietary injection device, and conduct gene expression analysis. FYI — I am much more interested in Shiseido than in Replicel, but unfortunately the former never makes any announcements (at least not in English newspapers), while the latter has in recent months been making a significant announcement almost every single week.

— I covered Dr. Manabu Ohyama on this blog before. This week he published an important study that could help advance research into overcoming the difficulties associated with the preparation of trichogenic human dermal papilla cells (and, as a result, help in the bioengineering of hair follicles). The study is too technical for me to understand without devoting many hours of time. However, I found it quite interesting that in the report, they devote a large section to Minoxidil. Interesting quote regarding how Minoxidil works:

“Minoxidil is a clinically used hair growth promoter that enhances hair KC (keratinocyte) proliferation and activates hDP cells to induce growth factors. IGF-1 is among these growth factors, and has been shown to exhibit a potent hair elongation effect.”

— I have covered Australian company Cellmid a few times on this blog before, usually very briefly since I am a skeptic about any purported benefits of their hair growth product beyond modest regrowth at best. However, today I read that the company’s CEO Maria Halasz purchased 400,000 shares of Cellmid (at a cost of $11,200) and now holds a total of 27.3 million shares. I guess either she really believes in their hair loss product (which inhibits fibroblast growth factor-5 = FGF-5), or she believes that she will be able to sell her stake at a higher price irrespective of how well the product ends up doing. The company has made several important announcements on Twitter recently, and saw phenomenal sales growth in the last quarter of 2016.

Aclaris Therapeutics update (h/t commentator “J_van”).

— A great testimonial from Dr. Sanusi Umar’s hair transplant patient. Majority of grafts used were from body hair, especially from the beard region.

Interesting new video from hair transplant surgeon Dr. John Cole.

James Nesbitt and his hair transplants.

And now on to medical items of interest:

Terminal cancer remission in 1/3 of patients after new gene therapy treatment.

New blood test for early cancer detection.

Cambridge scientists create first self-developing embryo from stem-cells. In mice.

3D printed fully functional blood vessel network created via using an ultra-fast bioprinting system.

Interesting stem cell work from Japan/RIKEN (h/t commentator “baldings”).

Editas, Allergan and gene editing for eye diseases.

— Update on DIY biohacking:

Are Obese Men Less Likely to go Bald?

Note: Poll is at the bottom. Three answer choices at the end. Results are only visible after you vote.

Last week, a new study from Germany concluded that short men are more likely to go bald prematurely (i.e., at an earlier age). This was very surprising to me since I never noticed any strong correlation between height and scalp hair quantity in real life. The same study also alluded to the fact that “white men in particular lose their hair prematurely”, which I have observed and mentioned on this blog before. The above study was widely covered by the global media.

On the other hand, one correlation that I have definitely noticed is that men who are obese seem to on average have a significantly lesser chance of balding in comparison to men who are of average weight or are slightly overweight or are slightly underweight. For the sake of simplicity, assume that the definition of an obese man (of average height) is someone who is at least 50 lbs overweight.

On hair loss forums, people often talk about changing their diet to a more healthier one in order to see if it improves their scalp hair, but if anything, I have seen highly obese people with a terrible junk food and soda filled diet having better hair than those with more regular diets. I hope I am wrong about that. Moreover, when people lose a lot of weight, one of the frequent complaints that I have read online seems to be the side effect of hair loss (although this might be a temporary side effect in most cases).

Obesity’s Impact on Testosterone and Estrogen Levels

If the above inverse correlation between weight and scalp hair quantity is true, the main reason is probably because fat men tend to have lower levels of testosterone (and therefore, most likely lower levels of dihydrotesterone, the main culprit in male pattern hair loss). An important study from 2008 found that higher waist circumferences were associated with lower testosterone levels.

It seems like obese men might also have higher estrogen levels, which can benefit scalp hair significantly.