Category Archives: Gene Therapy

DIY Genetic Engineering to Cure Hair Loss

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.

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.

In 2017, CRISPR based gene editing was performed in an adult human for for the first time in the US. Thereafter, both the US and Europe started gene editing clinical trials in 2018.

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 dihydrotestorone (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.

Josiah Zaynor

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.

Myostatin gene mutation muscular dogs
A muscular dog without the myostatin gene.

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

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 I she does not yet know if it is happening in all her body’s cells.

Belgian Blue Cattle Myostatin Mutation
Belgian Blue muscular cattle with myostatin mutation.

Moreover, Ms. Parrish claims that her body’s muscle composition also improved after her 2015 procedure, and her muscle mas 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.

Tristan Roberts

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.

Liz Parrish Says She is the First Patient to be Treated With Gene Therapy to Reverse Aging

On rare instances I blog about medical issues that are either unrelated to hair loss or perhaps/potentially related to hair loss.  This post is an example of the latter, since gene therapy could end up also being the ultimate solution for hair loss and be safe enough to be used regularly for cosmetic purposes...although I would never go through it for such reasons.

Update: Liz Parrish updates us in this October 15 video, and she is not pleased at some of the negative coverage she has received.

Update: This story is now getting more coverage. The best new articles as of October 14 are from MIT Technology Review: "A Tale of Do-It-Yourself Gene Therapy" and from IEET: "Ethics in Treatment With Telomerase."

BioViva CEO Elizabeth (Liz) Parrish has been in the news a lot lately and I highly recommend viewing three of her recent videos and a podcast interview from this year that I have embedded all the way at the bottom of this post. BioViva seems to be a legitimate and respectable company based on its stellar advisory board. Ms. Parrish herself is extremely intelligent and well spoken as you will be able to see in the videos at the end of this post. I also find her to be very sincere. Her 20 years of being a vegetarian and her initial interest in childhood diseases are further positives in the compassion department in my opinion. Hopefully that translate to her really meaning what she says when it comes to gene therapy being available for all at a low cost or for free in the future.

Earlier today, Ms. Parrish participated in a very interesting AMA on Reddit that is worth a thorough browse.  I was watching/reading the Ask Me Anything (AMA) live, and got a major shock when Ms. Parrish announced that she recently became the first patient (“patient zero”) to get gene therapy to reverse aging using her company’s proprietary technology.  She underwent this therapy several weeks ago (at least based on the date of the initial press release from September 30) , and announced on Reddit for the first time today that she herself was “patient zero.”  Apparently her whole procedure was filmed by a professional film crew and I am hoping that it turns into a documentary that airs on national tv.

Below is the initial announcement from Ms. Parrish in response to a set of four questions from a Redditor.  She answered many other questions about the exact nature of her treatment during the AMA.

I was surprised that Liz Parrish was the first patient to undergo this treatment, especially since she is only 44 years old and can perhaps afford to wait for a few years prior to getting gene therapy.   After all, BioViva has a lab in Colombia and has received interest from clinics in the Bahamas and Mexico per the third video below.  I assumed that BioVia would initially be testing their anti-aging gene therapy on Colombians or on aging/sick people from around the world who were willing to fly to Colombia/Bahamas/Mexico and so on.  Ms. Parish claims that she felt it was the ethical thing to do to get herself treated first before trying this on other people.

From a hair loss perspective, Ms. Parish mentions that hair loss and gray hair are a sign of aging in the Reddit and in one of the below videos if I recall correctly.  Perhaps this genetic treatment when perfected as much as possible will lead to a reversal in gray hair and regrowth of lost hair?  Even if this particular gene therapy does nothing for hair, it will represent a watershed moment in the use of genetic modification in humans.  Many hair loss researchers have stated that gene therapy is the ultimate solution to hair loss.

It should be noted that there are already many gene therapy treatments undergoing clinical trials on humans, but this one was the first one that was done to reverse aging and probably the first one that was filmed and will hopefully be shown on tv some day soon.  Moreover, Ms. Parrish is going to update us on her overall health and condition on a regular basis.  She claims that she feels more energetic and sleeps better at the moment in comparison to prior to getting injected, but it is too early to make any conclusions. We are finally moving from mice and rats to humans  (frustrated mice and rat hating long time hair loss forum members and blog readers really have to see the cartoon at 19:15 in the first video and Liz Parrish’s comments immediately thereafter).

From May 2015:

From July 2015:

From August 2015:

And finally, below is a great podcast interview in which I love the fact that she is highly critical of the patent-minded and money-minded modern pharmaceutical/medical industry complex.

From September 2015:

Liz Parrish podcast interview.