Category Archives: CRISPR/Cas9

Dermal Sheath Contraction, Lymphatic System and CRISPR

There were three important developments in the world of hair loss in December 2019 that I did not cover in separate posts. Mostly because these days I am too impatient to take interest in new findings that will likely not lead to any groundbreaking treatment in the short term.

Dermal Sheath Contraction and Hair Loss

Dr. Michael Rendl and his team at the Icahn School of Medicine in New York discovered that preventing the dermal sheath smooth muscle from contracting could stop hair loss. In future, a drug could prevent such muscle contraction and one would never shed hair. The best way to avoid androgenetic alopecia (AGA) is to stop hair from falling out in the first place. This treatment of blocking contraction of the sheath muscle has the potential to do just that in the future. Actual study here.

Lymphatic System Involved in Hair Loss

Another renowned hair loss researcher from New York that I have covered in the past is Dr. Elaine Fuchs. In December, her team at Rockefeller University found that the lymphatic system plays a key role in hair regeneration. Hair follicle stem cells control the behavior of lymphatic capillaries. This discovery can lead to new therapeutic targets for lymph-related conditions, including wound-healing defects and hair loss. Actual study here.

CRISPR/Cas9 Delivery System for AGA

Also in December 2019, South Korean scientists published an important paper on using CRISPR/Cas9 to treat androgenetic alopecia. They used ultrasound delivery and activation of nanoliposomal particles. The researchers successfully transferred protein constructs into hair follicle dermal papilla cells.

There are very few studies on the use of CRISPR and gene therapy (or gene modification) to treat hair loss. Hopefully, this will start to change in the near future. Most scientists are interested in using CRISPR to treat medical problems rather than cosmetic ones. It will always be easier to get government approval for the former rather than the latter.

Did anyone see Unnatural Selection on Netflix, which was released in December? I recommend doing so.

Lulu and Nana and Scott

Huge news from China, where scientists have claimed to have used CRISPR/Cas9 to genetically modify human babies for the first time in history. Not sure what to think about the ethics of all this as yet, but I like what Dr. Jiankui He has to say about genes not defining you:

“Our DNA does not predetermine our purpose or what we could achieve. We flourish from our own hard work, nutrition, and support from society and our loved ones. Whatever our genes may be, we are equal in dignity and potential.”

In this particular case, the volunteer fathers all have HIV and they want to make sure that their progeny do not suffer from the terrible disease of AIDS. Earlier speculation here. The scientists plan is to eliminate a gene called CCR5, so as to ensure that the human offspring are then resistant to HIV (as well as smallpox and cholera).

Note that some media reports are placing doubt on the accuracy of these claims and the methodology used.

Update: Dr. George Church seems to think this is for real:

“I have been in contact with the Shenzhen team and have seen the data. The sequencing assays used are generally unambiguous, especially when done in multiple cell types at different developmental stages and in two children. Is the genie really out of the bottle? Yes.”

First Gene Edited Babies Claimed in China

Scott Tries a New Hair System

I was thinking of adding Scott’s latest video about his new hair system to my original lengthy post on his hair system, where there are already three other videos (including a before one).

Then I changed my mind and decided to give him almost as much importance as Lulu and Nana. I like this hair system better than the first one.