From way out in Left Field: Male Contraceptive that also Cures Hair Loss

At first glance, the recent Daily Mail article about the RISUG male contraceptive that also cures hair loss (!) seemed like an obvious scam to me.  However, upon further research, I have become far more curious about this drug.  RISUG stands for Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance and is basically a drug injected into a man’s vas deferens (the vessel through which sperm moves) via local anesthesia.  Here is the India Today article on the same drug.

For one, the scientist who invented this drug is no slouch.  Dr. Sujoy Guha completed his undergraduate and Masters degrees in electrical engineering at IIT Kharagpur, one of India’s  premier institutions of learning (the IIT system of universities in India is synonymous with the Ivy League system of  universities in the US, but even harder to get into due to India’s vast population).  Dr. Guha then got another Masters degree from the University of Illinois in the US, followed by a PhD in Medical Physiology from Saint Louis University in the US.  He returned to India, got yet another degree (MBBS), and then started the country’s Centre for Biomedical Engineering.  In 2011, Dr. Guha received a $100,000 grant from the Gates Foundation to be used to pursue a variation of RISUG for the fallopian tubes as a female contraceptive.

More significantly, numerous clinical trials and studies in India for well over a decade on both animals and humans have proven that RISUG is both safe and essentially 100 percent effective as a male contraceptive when injections are applied correctly.  Wired Magazine published a very interesting article on this drug and on Dr. Guha in 2011, albeit without a single mention of any effect on hair loss.  RISUG will in all likelihood be released in India by the end of 2014.   Here is a howstuffworks article on RISUG.  A great 2008 seven page/slide overview on RISUG and its history.

One RISUG injection will supposedly cost just several hundred dollars at most (and probably much less in India), and the effects will last for ten years!  It is also likely that the drug will be released in the US very soon after it comes out in India, under the brand name Vasalgel (rights were purchased from Dr. Guha for $100,000). Unlike a vasectomy, the effects of Vasalgel are reversible, and the initial injection is an almost pain free outpatient procedure.  This product has the potential to become a blockbuster even with no effect on hair loss.  If the effects on hair loss are as positive as Dr. Guha claims, this drug will become bigger than the infamous Bob Dole V drug (am not posting the whole name of that drug so as to limit spam).

Dr. Guha also claims that RISUG will stop prostate cancer and prevent prostate enlargement.  This is not as incredulous as it sounds, since Propecia is also supposed to help with both hair loss and prostate cancer.

Taiwan Start’s World’s First Human Study on Hair Cloning

From my experiences of having lived and/or traveled in many countries and neighborhoods and of having been exposed to numerous people from virtually every major country/ culture/race/ religion in the world, on a per capita basis, hair loss is of most concern to Asians. When I say Asians, I don’t just mean Chinese, Japanese and Koreans, but also include South Asians (i.e., Bangladeshis, Burmese, Filipinos, Indians, Indonesians, Pakistanis, Thais, Vietnamese etc…) in there.  Since 60 percent of all people in the world reside in Asia as defined above, I had to emphasize that on a per capita basis hair loss is of most distress to people in this region.

Reasons for this include the fact that balding rates are much lower in Asians than in Caucasians so one really stands out when losing hair, and the fact that head shaving is not nearly as common and fashionable among Asians as among people of African descent. In annual lists of countries with the most plastic surgery procedures (on a per capita basis), Asian nations such as South Korea and Taiwan always seem to be near the top, and Thailand is renowned for cosmetic procedure related medical tourism.

In any case, it is therefore not surprising that such a significant amount of hair multiplication and hair cloning related research has been coming out of Asia in recent years. The latest is from Taiwan, where the world’s first human hair cloning study/experiment is underway in which around 400 men and women will have their own scalp’s dermal papillae cells cultured in a lab and then implanted into their scalp. The study is being undertaken at the National Taiwan University Hospital. Successful results have already been shown in animals, and it seems like human testing in Taiwan is less restricted than in the US or Western Europe. Hopefully, the results of this study will be positive with no side effects.

The person who is leading this study is Sung-Jan Lin. Some relatively recent hair loss research papers from National Taiwan University and Dr. Lin.

It seems like the study was originally supposed to commence in May 2006 per this clinical trials overview and I am surprised at such a lengthy delay.

Daily Mail has an article on this ground breaking development.

Hair Loss Cure News Blog. Hair Cloning and Multiplication for Baldness.