New Hair Loss Treatment Model

Bill Gates once famously mentioned that research for hair loss gets more funding than research for malaria. Although the statement was controversial at the time, it also highlighted how little research in this field had progressed. Indeed, the comment came as little relief to the millions of men and women that had been suffering from hair-loss, whether it was as a side effect of an illness or aging. However, we were recently made aware of a new model in research, which appears to have the potential to move this field forward. Here we consider what is currently known about this new model.

One of the reasons there has been such a large gap between research and treatment has been the fact that there has been little opportunity for scientists to successfully study the interaction between epithelial cells and dermal papilla, which along with genetic vulnerabilities) have been suggested to play a key role in the development of hair loss. Although there has been a need for research studying the immediate effects of treatments, traditional models have long been flawed due to the opaque nature of traditional models which has led to researchers needing to slice thin sections to analyse (rather than observe transparent areas). As a result of that, the time-consuming analysis that traditional research has often used has been less than ideal.

The most recent model, which was created at Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN), is said to address all of these areas. According to the researchers, the three-dimensional biological model is like a living structure that mimics hair follicles in various ways. It is transparent, which implies that researchers may be able to directly study the interaction between epithelial cells and dermal papilla. In addition to that, animal studies have suggested that it may activate genes that play a role in hair production in humans. 

This research team is now keen to see what happens when ingredients commonly found in skin care products and other hair products get in contact with hair. It is their hope that this will help them to make a leap in research for new treatments of baldness.

We were initially intrigued when we read this research. However, upon looking through their findings in more detail we felt that the researchers’ statements were pre-mature and attempted to cover too many areas.

Whilst we would love for the model to become successful, we are also aware of the many trials that are needed before the model itself becomes established for research purposes. If this is achieved, it is still likely that the model’s primary function would be to test efficacy of current treatments, and the safety of new treatments. We feel that it is not likely this model would be able to address the complex part genes play in hair-loss (which is a substantial area of this market). As such, we believe that the model may have an impact, but that it will be more limited to specific areas of research concerning hair loss.