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.

25 thoughts on “DIY Genetic Engineering to Cure Hair Loss”

  1. I can say this…I seen the Gene with babies on television, it seemed up for debate. However I was talking with a pharmacist about a DNA kit. Of course hair was brought up. He claimed that they can see hair loss factors in some kits but as of today nothing can be made of it…he bought the same kit I was looking at However, I know why my hair got screwed…medication. However if you are that rare person and don’t know….i think these kits w a Dr. Referral to a genetic counselor, it could help.

    I am doing hgh alternative therapy for sleep. Some body builders claim it helps with hair. Mine is off label for sleep. I am trying it for a month. I have seen ppl in the past talk about hgh. Don’t do it for just hair bc insulin and gh are antagonists of each other. You have to be really disciplined for it. Ppl leave that part out.

    I am going to do a DNA test before and after. So this caught my attention.

    1. It took about 3 months of me taking 3IU a day of HGH to see a difference in my hair. I’d be surprised if you see much of a change with anything after just a month of use. If you’re not taking 2IU or more you’ll basically be at normal body production levels, which will have little effect.

  2. Tristan Roberts has resumed HAART (anti-HIV therapy).
    The experimental treatment failed, as everybody with basic biomedical knowledge had predicted.
    There is great potential in gene modification and gene editing, but unfortunately in ten-twenty years from now.

  3. Gene manipulation is certainly another avenue to cure baldness.. or cancer.. or aging, but there seems to be potential for big unintended consequences (especially at first). Does anyone know of FDA rules with clinical testing? Does it start with animals as drug testing does? Is a gene mod in an animal proof of concept for humans?

    1. Yeah, on par with Minoxidil…is this anything to be excited about? I don’t typically crap on new potential treatments in the pipeline but if that’s all they got it would have to be effective on a greater percentage of the population and be low cost. Maybe they will still discover a way to optimize for greater effectiveness.

      1. and “on a par” with minoxidil – the wording tells me it’s no better. This is not the one that is going to solve most hairloss sufferers problems.

    1. The topical minox sulfanize treatment looks pretty cool. Maybe this will help us non responders grow lots of hair. It’s in phase 3.

  4. I’m actually happy that follicum works. Minox doesn’t work for many of us and this might be it’s replacement. Plus it didn’t cause a stupid shedding phase and hair growth started at 1 week. Not 3 months later after shed phase. Looking forward to this coming out. Anybody know what their target release date is? Was this trial done on human scalp or animal?

  5. I feel like using this for MPB is kind of over hyped, and not realistic anytime soon. The real issue is you dont know what genes control any of this. Its not like 1 or 2 its more like hundreds of combinations that you need to adjust, and adjust without breaking or changing anything by accident. I dont see it.
    Maybe the AR making you vulnerable to DHT is simpler, and only a gene or two but anything beyond a gene or two is just not going to be doable for a long long time. No one understands how any of this stuff works like what combinations do.

  6. Guys is everyone following the Trinov/Brotzu updates, few ppl have been using for over a month now

    From what I have read, seems very positive with stopping of shed and even some small regrowth

  7. First time commenting. Finasteride has worked great for me completely stopping my hairloss for years now and no one thinks of me as someone who has an issue. However, I find myself worrying that I can’t put it off forever and would love to hear news of something else that can provide maintenance like a lot of future treatments and drugs are promising.

    For you old timers, are all of these drugs in trial phase 2 and 3 nothing new, or are things truly looking good to get more treatments in the upcoming years. I’m going to add the other two components of the big 3 and I hope I can keep going as I am for the next 3 years or so until something else better comes out.

    Thanks.

    1. Hi Collin,

      There are a lot of phase 2/3 products right now. A nice overview can be found at https://www.hairlosstalk.com/pipeline/. In my opinion, a traditional cure (e.g. a pill or liquid) seems a bit off, but enough products that should slow down development. Most promising is the field of regenative medicine. Multiple universities are _already_ able to create hair follicles from your own cells. Clinical application of one of these will begin this March in Japan. If you ask me, that will probably be a ‘cure’ that will come available in the next couple of years. However, there are still some uncertainties of how transplantation of hair follicles translate into humans (they already managed to grow cloned human hair in immunodeficient mice).

      In particular look out for Tsuji (Riken/Organ Technologies inc). and some from columbia university (Rapunzel bioscience (which isn’t covered here as far as i’ve seen)

  8. I am a molecular biologist/geneticist. We use Crispr/Cas9 to knockout mouse genes, knock in other things, etc. I can tell you that using this on yourself is an absolutely terrible idea. It can result in things being unintentionally deleted, duplicated, and/or mutated. Using this on yourself is like playing with the code to the operating system of your computer with no idea what you’re doing and a keyboard that doesn’t always type what you want. On top of that, there is no known ‘baldness gene’, thus no way to solve the problem even if you could genetically edit yourself.

    Perhaps in a decade to a generation or so we will have clinically approved in vivo (I.e in man) gene editing, but the technology is still a long way off.

    On a side note, i hope that Chinese scientist goes to jail. What he did was incredibly unethical and stifles progress by eroding the public trust.

  9. While on the genetic engineering subject, see this link regarding safety/advantage of progenitor cell regeneration: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190207005590/en/Frequency-Therapeutics-Present-42nd-Annual-Mid-Winter-Meeting

    “…..Frequency’s Progenitor Cell Activation (PCA) Regeneration platform uses a combination of small molecules to stimulate progenitor cells within the body to repair diseased or damaged tissue. This technology enables native tissue regeneration without modifying genes or removing cells from the body. This avoids the potential safety risks of genetic engineering and the manufacturing challenges of traditional cell therapy. This approach has been validated …… in …….a human clinical trial with the potential for broad application across many therapeutic areas.”

      1. “Frequency is leveraging its PCA Regeneration Platform to build a robust pipeline of progenitor cell activators. Because of the broad applicability of the PCA approach, Frequency is currently exploring the potential of PCA across many different therapeutic areas such as hearing loss, skin disorders, muscle regeneration, and gastrointestinal diseases.”

        http://www.frequencytx.com/our-company/about-us.php

  10. Collins- I am long time user of Propecia. Over 16 years now. I was like you for 12 years. Propecia alone stopped my hair loss completely. Nobody new I was thinning. After year 12 Propecia lost its power and slow but steady I have been thinking each year. Added Rogaine which sort of helped but that is losing its effectiveness. How many years have you been on Propecia?
    The new phase 2 and 3 stuff looks promising, especially follica. However I learned over the years not to get my hopes up on anything new in the pipeline.

  11. Thanks everyone for your interest and replies. I’ve been on finasteride for 5 years now… since I was 18. Mature/thinning hairline hit me hard my senior year of high school but most days I can style so no one would really notice. Like I said, I’ve been doing great since then and now a lot of people at college are catching up and surpassing me. I’ll be honest, I’ve let it consume my life and I hope technology can keep up, but I’ve heard the whole repeated thought process of “just 2 or 3 or 5 more years” to no prevail

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