Back in my early 20s, I noticed my hairline was beginning to recede. Being a tad neurotic, I immediately booked an appointment with my family doctor to see what preventative treatments were available so that my head didn’t soon match my father’s. A down-to-earth realist, my doc told me point-blank there was nothing I could do. Worse, the (very expensive) preventative products on the market merely delayed the inevitable, and the costs probably weren’t worth the results. So there I was: a young, spritely man in his 20s, doomed to live out the remainder of his years as an unsightly bald man.
Because I know a great many gentlemen share the fear of balding, it seems fitting to now write about a new hair-growth procedure trying to get to the FDA for approval. So far, the company behind it, San Diego-based Samumed, has attracted $300 million in funding and a $12 billion valuation because of its miracle drug, which claims to regenerate hair, skin, bones and joints. It promises what the fabled fountain of youth never delivered: the regrowth of hair on balding heads, the smoothing of deep wrinkles and the regeneration of cartilage on worn-out joints in people suffering osteoarthritis. It’s almost too good to be true, right?
While the start-up’s venture has been met with skepticism from both outside and inside the medical field, test trials have produced promising results. The research, presented to the American Academy of Dermatology in 2016, split 300 men, aged 18 to 55, into three separate dosage groups of .15 percent, .25 percent and zero, the placebo group. Results found that, after 135 days, the men who used the lower dosage produced a 10 percent increase in hair growth; those on the higher dose saw an increase of seven percent. The placebo group saw nothing. In fact, they continued losing hair.
In the second study, 49 men were split into the same three groups. Each of the men had the top of their heads biopsied three times: at the beginning of the test, after 90 days and at 135 days (the end of the test). This time, the .25 percent dosage noted slightly more follicle growth than the .15 percent group did. Among other things, these combined results have helped confirm that the drug does, in fact, promote hair growth and sugar pills do not.
Samumed is currently setting up a third and final trial—one it hopes will aid in getting approved for market by the FDA. But while Samumed’s hair loss treatment has the most current data, the start-up’s osteoarthritis program is closer to approval. If successful, this could be the first treatment to ever regrow cartilage, which is totally great. But dude, my hair…I’m not getting any younger.