In 2003, Mc Elwee showed that DSC cells have equal ability to create new follicles as DP cells. In addition, they have the ability to migrate into existing follicles and restore hair growth. Whether or not Replicel targets rejuvination of existing follicles or new follicles (or both) is purely a matter of their choice of delivery technique (Note that DSC and DP cell techniques have different effects in humans than in mice, so it’s not simply a matter of extrapolation of the following study).
Unfortunately, those who are interviewing Replicel seem to have lost touch with the existing science behind this technique, as recent interviews have provided little new information about the technique. We continue to rehash the same old BS without advancing what we’ve known for years. This mimics how scientists and companies do their research–thinking inside the box in order to retain status, safety, and a comfortable lifestyle.
Sanford-Burnham has zero ability to grow more hair based on cell type (DP vs DSC). In fact, much of the existing research shows that DP cells have limited induction ability when used in human beings. Despite DP cells apparent limitations in human research, what is important about the two techniques is the loss of cell inductivity in high-passaged cells. Sandford Burnham’s advantage is unlimited full-strength cells, which even if they don’t result in creating DHT-resistant follicles can be re-injected throughout the life of the patient (as long as DP cells are a good candidate for human injection).
Has anybody asked Replicel about the genetic changes their small sample of donor cells undergo when being multiplied in large numbers in culture? Or is this still a complete unknown at this late stage of the game?
In order to work, it seems Replicel merely needs to be used off-label with enough follow-up treatments to target all balding follicles. In the meantime, the existing hair that would otherwise undergo future fallout will be immunized to baldness, so it is effectively a cure. Perhaps the most useful aspect of this cure is, young people just beginning to bald can simply be immunized and never have to deal with this mess in the first place.
With Sanford-Burnham, a deep understanding of cellular microclimates is probably necessary in order to create DHT-resistant cells. It’s not that it isn’t possible; it just requires a much deeper understanding of culturing environments. As we can see through the example of Replicel (who use a purely off-the-shelf culturing solution) having a deep understanding of the culturing environment is well beyond the scope of a typical startup company and will add unnecessary years to the release of any envisioned product. That, and the varied nature of Sanford-Burnham’s research leads me to believe their treatment is WAY into the future. Their main goal is to generate headlines, which in turn generates additional research donations (similar model to Christiano and the rest of these unmotivated slow pokes).
Some might argue that if DSC cells were in unlimited supply, Replicel would be a cure (along with Sanford-Burnham). But there’s an interesting aspect lurking behind this argument.
Gho simply plucked hair from follicles, cultured the available stem cells, and then injected them in order to stimulate the existing shrunken follicles. His protocol could easily be adjusted to cure many, if not most or all people, because the available full-strength cells for injection are purely unlimited.
The problem is, researchers want to be able to inject a patient once or twice using a very small initial cell collection technique and then not do any future injections. This way, they can clear the regulatory agencies and get a simplistic prescription label for the product. This is contrary to what we know about the current crop of techniques, which is, in order to work consistently across a broad population of patients, they need to be re-administered a large number of times. Nobody wants to design a trial to account for that because it adds additional complexity, time, and expense. It also fails to target a broad range of patients with a single treatment protocol and instead calls for “individualized” treatment for each patient. This is a huge no-no when attempting to commercialize a treatment prescription. So when they only get an average growth rate of 10% in an already bald area (read poor visual results), and the response is wildly inconsistent across the treatment population, it’s not seen as commercially viable according to the prescription label they’re seeking, so they simply give up.
Very little has changed since I started following these treatments in the late 1990’s. We’ve known about a cure since then, but companies don’t find it to be commercially viable, so they won’t pursue it. If a super rich bald man (like Donald Trump) wants to pay for a full head of hair, I can give it to him, as can many people much more knowledgeable and capable than myself (as long as they’re willing to think outside the box, which I expect they are not). Startup companies cannot do this, because their hands are tied behind their backs trying to create a simple protocol that works on everybody via a few magic injections. So our options are absolutely limited, and the pace of progress is less than that of a snail. After 17 years of sitting on a cure, we are seemingly at the exact same point we started–hog tied and hoping for a lucky break that rewards an otherwise blind startup company.
I’m beginning to believe the way forward is to stop thinking about curing everybody and start thinking about curing only a few very rich people who want a full head of hair. Either that, or perhaps crowd fund a few lucky suckers to be the first to be cured and then hit the news with it. Once you cure two people, no matter what the cost, you will start an avalanche of research and funding to cheapen the procedure in order to deliver the treatment to the masses (I.E. funding would be the last thing you would have to worry about).
In my opinion, the cure for baldness is not waiting for some future discovery. It’s simply waiting on someone, who is well funded, to simply use the available science in a semi-creative manner. Unfortunately, much like the state of the world in 2003, when Mc Elwee released the above study, nobody is willing to do so. The supposed smartest members of our society mostly sit around and think inside the box until they die. In the meantime, a new generation of ideas is born that causes a small advancement, and then we wait for that generation of thinkers to finish thinking inside the box and die, so that we can get yet another generation of inside-the-box thinkers. In the meantime, we all die bald.
I’m convinced, a cure for baldness already exists, but either nobody can think clearly enough to perform it, or nobody is willing to pursue it due to life inside the safety of the box being far too comfortable. I expect that even I could cure baldness if I had moderate funding to lead a team of scientists in a small lean company in a lightly regulated country. To speed up the process, I would simply buy ARI’s existing knowledge base and continue forward from there. Curing baldness is not about figuring out point B. We already can conceive point B. It’s about, how do we get from point A to B when 100% of the world’s VC remains uninterested. Once we get to point B (completely cure two people using existing science in conjunction with outside the box techniques), we can more easily move to point C–curing the entire general population. Unfortunately, the regulatory agencies are not set up to support this model, and nobody is willing to buck the trend.