A cure for baldness? It's not as far-fetched as you think
It's not the first time a cure for baldness has been announced. But maybe this one will work. In a study just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the authors took human hair cells and packed them into wee 3D spheres, implanted the hair balls into human skin, then grafted the skin onto the backs of mice.
The hair was white. And the hair gurus don't know if new hairs would grow if these were removed. Human trials are three to five years away. So that gives us a lot of time to ponder other milestones in the age-old battle against baldness.
Biblical times: In the Book of Kings, mean kids call Prophet Elisha "baldhead." The humiliated Hebrew is said to have slapped bear grease on his pate as a remedy. For centuries, other bald men do the same. Their rationale: Bears are very hairy.
50 B.C.: Julius Caesar's laurel wreath? It's his version of a toupee.
1940s: Rest easy, male-pattern bald man. You did not cause your condition by emitting heat from thinking too hard or, as Samuel Johnson proposed in 1778, by having a "dry" brain. Nor is it the fault of dandruff or air pollution, as some thought. Research points to heredity and hormones.
1950s: A New York doctor moves plugs of hair from a fecund area to a bald patch, where the hairs follow genetic orders: Sprout! Thus begins the era of hair transplantation.
1988: The FDA approves minoxidil, an ointment applied to the scalp to stop hair loss and stimulate growth. Dermatologists say two-thirds of balding patients see minimal to moderate improvement. Women reportedly get better results than men.
1990s: Hair in a Can hopes guys will pay to spray their scalp the color of remaining hair. Meanwhile, the stylish baldness of basketball star Michael Jordan launches a head-shaving craze.
1997: Finasteride, the first prescription pill for balding men, gets FDA OK. According to one study, the prostate-drug derivative offers a 75 percent chance of halting hair loss for men ages 18 to 40, but only a 37 percent chance of regrowth at the front of the scalp.
2007: The FDA approves the first device to combat baldness, a laser comb. In tests, 123 men used the light-emitting contraption three times a week. Nine out of ten reported fewer hairs lost; some saw new growth. Dermatologists weren't entirely skeptical. A rare side effect from laser hair removal is … hair growth!