Future Follicles: High Tech Ways to Treat Greying, Hair Loss and Thinning

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This article first appeared in the Winter 2024 issue of New Beauty. Click here to subscribe

In the pursuit of looking and feeling good as we age, the battle against hair loss has evolved. Envision a future where your DNA unlocks personalized hair restoration, where stem cells and tiny molecules decode the secret to rejuvenating your hair to its youthful fullness and strength. This vision is now a reality, thanks to groundbreaking science and AI-driven innovations propelling us into the future of hair.

EXOSOMES: Natural Hair Regenerators

New York dermatologist Marina Peredo, MD, says exosomes are at the forefront of hair restoration. “Exosomes, tiny extracellular vesicles derived from mesenchymal stem cells, are key players in this scientific leap,” Dr. Peredo explains. “They target and repair damaged cells, stimulate hair follicle stem cells, and reduce signs of aging.” To treat hair loss, Dr. Peredo uses Exovex exosomes. “Their magic lies in their ability to stimulate hair-follicle regeneration. They activate hair stem cells, ushering them into the hair growth phase. They also promote new blood vessel growth vital for follicle nourishment and have anti-inflammatory properties that help with scalp inflammation, a significant contributor to hair loss.”

Compared to traditional approaches like hair transplants or topical medications, Dr. Peredo says patients typically will choose exosome-based treatments because they are noninvasive and cost-efficient. The exosomes are injected into thinning areas of the scalp using tiny needles. “The FDA has not approved exosome- based treatments for hair loss yet, as there is still much to learn about this therapy,” she adds. She anticipates they will become a mainstream solution in the near future: “I think people will embrace combination therapies that include topical and oral medications, lasers, exosomes and growth factors. They are already commonly used, but I see them becoming more popular with time.

GENETIC TESTING: Personalized Solutions

For the ultimate bespoke hair treatment, Roots by Genetic Arts offers AI powered diagnostics. Cofounder Carla Brenner says, “We do this by utilizing genetic tests and patient questionnaires to gather crucial information, which is then shared with board-certified dermatologists. The collected data forms the basis for creating precise prescriptions, which consider each individual’s DNA focused on hair-loss biomarkers. This process ensures the most optimal ingredient concentrations for every patient.” Brenner says this process helps clients avoid trial and error, which can take months away from precious hair regrowth time. “Current solutions, such as minoxidil and finasteride, are often inadequate for certain individuals and can lead to unwanted side effects. Our mission is to offer the most precise topical serum by analyzing 48 different biomarkers linked to hair loss and matching them with the broadest range of clinically proven and FDA- approved pharmaceutical ingredients.”

This raises the bar for personalized solutions. “The future of hair-loss prevention involves extreme personalization driven by DNA analysis,” adds Brenner. “This is becoming a cornerstone of medicine and beauty. It saves time and money while also providing access to ingredients otherwise inaccessible due to cost.” While they focus on topicals now, the company intends to offer bespoke oral medications in the future.


Similar to how women preserve embryos for future reproduction, Beverly Hills, CA hair restoration specialist Dr. Craig Ziering says the hair restoration of tomorrow will involve freezing hair follicle stem cells, and utilizing the stem cells as well as their cell-secreted growth factors, matrix molecules, and exosomes for future potential hair regrowth. He explains that stem cells within the hair follicle, particularly in the epithelial bulge region, dermal papilla and sheath of the follicle, serve as a crucial source for repair and rejuvenation. “At the base of the follicle,” he notes, “lies the hair bulge, housing a reservoir of stem cells that can be activated for repair and regeneration.”

Dr. Ziering says we are on the cusp of a real breakthrough: the ability to pluck hair follicles, isolate and multiply these stem cells, and transform them into various cell types. This advancement offers not only the promise of hair regrowth but also potential applications in areas such as nerve cells and muscle cells. “You can pluck the hair follicles and isolate them, using them for anti-aging for the skin as well,” he notes. “As technology advances, we will be able to utilize hair stem cells to regenerate nerve cells, bone cells, cartilage, and other applications. For hair regrowth, these younger cells will be used at the first signs of loss.

While it may sound like science fiction, Dr. Ziering has already begun cell banking and cryopreservation with Acorn Biolabs for individuals who want to proactively secure their future hair-growth treatments.

UNLOCKING RNA: Fuller Hair Hope

A study conducted by Northwestern University School of Medicine scientists has uncovered a potential cause of age-related hair loss. Published in Nature Aging, this research delves into the aging of hair follicle stem cells, shedding light on the mechanisms behind hair and tissue aging. Lead author of the study, Dr. Rui Yi explains that as hair stem cells age, they lose their adhesive properties that anchor them within the hair follicle’s bulge, also known as the stem cell niche. “This causes the stem cells to migrate into the dermis, where they struggle to survive. Consequently, there’s a decrease in the number of hair-producing stem cells, leading to hair thinning and baldness as we age,” he says.

Their study, published at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, discovered that by boosting the production of miR-205, a small RNA molecule, they could rejuvenate these cells, prompting hair growth in both young and old mice. Dr. Yi notes that this approach doesn’t create new stem cells but can stimulate existing ones to produce hair and treat age-related hair thinning.

Before humans can be treated, Dr. Yi says they need to confirm whether miR-205 can stimulate human hair growth and find a method to deliver it to the skin without genetic manipulation. He predicts that future testing will occur first on human cells rather than directly on patients. There will also be a need to identify who can benefit most from the treatment.

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