A study published in the journal Nature Communications in March 2016 identifies, for the very first time, a host of genes believed to be associated with many hair characteristics, including eyebrow and beard bushiness, hair color and shape, hair graying and hair loss. We asked Dr. Harris to weigh in on import of this study.
Question: Dr. Harris, is this a significant breakthrough in the quest to cure baldness?
Dr. Harris: This finding is the result of research efforts that are ongoing, but it should be viewed as a step in a very long process, not a quantum leap. Unfortunately this study concentrated on finding gene associations and not necessarily the gene characteristics that might lead to a cure for hair loss. Any “cure” is likely 10-15 years away at the soonest. Every bit of data about the genes that control hair growth and gene associations gives us a little more information in understanding a very complicated process and potentially one more piece to solve the puzzle and get us closer to better treatments.
Question: Should people hold off on pursuing current surgical hair transplants and non-surgical medical treatment, because they might prove to be incompatible with this treatment option in the future?
Dr. Harris: People should not necessarily postpone pursuing current medical treatments that are proven to slow or reverse hair loss or any surgical intervention because it is highly likely that the new treatments will be compatible with previous transplants, and it is important to try to save as much of your current hair as possible.
Question: If this technology were to come into existence would you adopt those methods and offer them at your clinic?
Dr. Harris: Absolutely. I treat hair loss using all known methods, and have been at the forefront of inventing and patenting techniques for hair restoration surgery myself. I find new research fascinating, and while I reject fads of any kind I embrace innovation.
Question: Do these findings point to a genetic cure for hair loss? If so, what would a genetic cure likely look like? Would it consist of injecting enzymes for example?
Dr. Harris: It probably won’t be a “genetic” cure, which implies a modification of genes. It will likely be the injection of “growth factors,” stem cell simulators, or cultured cells from the dermal papilla along with growth factors to grow new follicles.
See Dr. Harris’ inventions and patents in the field of FUE on his CV page.
Dr. James A. Harris is an internationally renowned hair transplant surgeon, inventor of patented follicular unit extraction technology, published author in the field of hair restoration and an advocate for patient care. Learn more about Dr. Harris or read rave reviews from his patients.