THE HOLY GRAIL: Did Israel just find the cure for male baldness that has NO sexual side effects
A team at the Technion is developing an innovative new topical treatment that could treat baldness without the serious side effects associated with current oral medications.
The drug finasteride seemed like the answer to every man’s dream of keeping a full head of hair, but it caused nightmares for a small percentage of those who took it, in the form of erectile dysfunction and a greater risk for prostate and male breast cancer.
So when Alexey Tomsov saw that his father was developing a bald spot, he proposed to his partners on the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology’s International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) team that they invent an effective remedy applied directly to the scalp to avoid systemic side effects.
The Haifa team’s cure-in-a-comb ended up winning an iGEM 2015 Jamboree gold medal and first-place prize for Best New Application out of a field of 259 teams of undergraduate and graduate science students from across the world.
The potential is huge. Some 61 million people in the United States alone suffer from hairloss, and the existing treatments either cause serious side effects or aren’t very effective.
The Technion team zeroed in on male pattern baldness, the culprit for 95 percent of cases of hair loss in men. They learned that a testosterone derivative called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) causes hair follicles to deteriorate. While finasteride or similar drugs prevent testosterone from converting to DHT, they also can cause nasty side effects.
“We wanted to treat DHT locally, not like a drug that goes throughout the body,” says Tomsov. “We wanted to utilize the natural microflora on the scalp.”
No pill to take
The user injects a comb device with an
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