For the past five years, the revolutionary CRISP/Cas9 gene editing technique has caused much excitement as well as trepidation all across the scientific universe. Both emotions reached a new crescendo two months ago, when a renegade Chinese scientist genetically edited human babies for the first time ever using CRISPR technology. Aldous Huxley’s 1932 book “Brave New World” was truly ahead of its time.
Update: March 10, 2023 — An excellent new video on CRISPR gene editing to cure hair loss:
Gene Editing (Modification) versus Gene Therapy
Gene editing (aka gene modification aka genetic engineering) involves alteration of existing genes. This can in the future perhaps enable humans to develop various superman-like capabilities. In contrast, gene therapy is the process of replacing existing defective genes with new normal and healthy ones. Having said that, gene therapy is starting to incorporate some of the tools of gene modification.
Genetic therapy treatment has a much longer history, with 2,335 gene therapy clinical trials having been undertaken in close to 40 countries between 1989 and 2015.
DIY Gene Modification for Hair Loss
A number of do-it-yourself (DIY) self-experimenters in various countries have been experimenting with editing their own genes and DNA in recent years. None have as yet announced their doing this for hair growth or hair loss prevention purposes. Some (or even all) might obviously be frauds trying to get fame and make money from product sales.
At the same time, there could very well be hundreds of others by now who are DIY modifying their genes without publicizing it anywhere. Note that while most self-experimenters are undergoing gene therapy treatments, some are trying out the more difficult gene modification procedures. There are various online biohacking and genetic engineering groups where you can read about strategies and testimonials.
Sooner or later, it is inevitable that someone will try to replace or modify the genes responsible for hair loss if such genes can be fully categorized; or cut out the gene responsible for dihydrotestosterone (DHT), assuming that gene is not responsible for anything else important; or cut out the gene responsible for hair being sensitive to the ravages of DHT; or any other such iterations.
Interestingly, in 2016, a well respected Chinese scientist named Dr. Chunyu Han claimed to have discovered a gene editing technique to cure hair loss. For some reason, he was really into the hair loss aspect despite not being bald himself. However, Mr. Han has since been discredited.
Perhaps the most famous of these DIY genetic biohackers is Josiah Zaynor. In 2017, he supposedly used CRISPR to knock out the myostatin gene in himself. A successful outcome would lead to him becoming significantly more muscular, since myostatin inhibits muscle growth. However, this attempt did not succeed. Mr. Zaynor later had some regrets about his self-experiment. Note the also own a company that sells do-it-yourself Crispr bacterial gene modification kits.
If a renegade biohacker ever does succeed in knocking out myostatin via any kind of gene modification technique and then also becomes overly muscular, watch out. At present, genes, epigenetics and genetic interplay are all way too complex by the standards of our current understanding.
Perhaps self-experimenters, artificial intelligence, big data analytics/bioinformatics, and renegade Chinese scientists will all combine to speed up our ultimate mastery of human biology.
Liz Parrish needs no introduction. I have covered her on this blog a few times. She supposedly underwent two gene therapies in 2015 to try to reverse her aging. One of the therapies was to increase her telomere length and the other was to increase her muscle mass.
In her latest blog update from 2018, she claims that her telomere length has increased from 6.71 kb in 2015 to 8.12 kb in 2018. Make sure to read my post on telomerase activation and hair growth. She also points out that this telomere length improvement was shown in her white blood cells. But she does not yet know if this is happening in all her body’s cells.
Moreover, Ms. Parrish claims that her body’s muscle composition also improved after her 2015 procedure, and her muscle mass remains greater to this day. I would be curious to know if she has changed her diet and exercise regimen in any way since 2015.
In 2017, Tristan Roberts self-injected himself with a gene therapy to treat his HIV. Story here. He provided an update in 2018, and aims to make a second version of the gene therapy without using any bacterial DNA.