The Future of Male Hair Loss Treatments: A Cure?

Whether it is a receding hairline, noticeable bald spots or thinning hair, you may be dealing with one of the many different forms of hair loss.

Androgenetic alopecia, better known as genetic hair loss, is inevitable for most men. It is caused by the male androgen dihydrotestosterone or DHT for short.

DHT disrupts the hair cycle and damages the hair follicle. It reduces the duration of the hair growth phase and causes your hair to become shorter and thinner. A process that is known as hair miniaturisation. After a few years, a point is reached where the hair produced is so tiny and thin that it can no longer penetrate the scalp and results in a bald spot.

As men have become increasingly self-conscious about their appearance, there has been a growing demand for effective treatment methods. Therefore, researchers have made considerable progress in recent years with new medicines, stem cell experiments, and hair transplants.

In this article, we provide an overview of recent developments and the currently available treatments.

What role do genes play in male pattern baldness?

Your genes play a very important role here, as in many other things. Researchers from the University of Edinburgh have managed to identify "more than 250 genes associated with hair loss".

These findings could be used in the future to develop an algorithm to predict "how likely it is that someone will go bald". While not a guarantee for the future, it does give men the opportunity to intervene at an early stage. In most cases, hair loss can be prevented, and the earlier you intervene, the more hair you're able to save.

This algorithm will take a few years to develop. Fortunately, there is already a method that allows you to fairly accurately predict how much you are at risk. You simply have to look at all the men in your family.

Do your brothers, father, and great-grandfather suffer from hair loss? Then it is very likely that you will too. In that case, it is necessary to tackle hair loss as early as possible to save your hairline.

Can stem cells cure baldness?

One promising area of research into a solution for baldness is stem cells. These are a type of cells that have the ability to change into other cells in your body to repair tissue damage.

A research group in Japan wants to develop a technology to regenerate hair follicles. Their method involves growing stem cells around the hair follicles to repair the damaging effects of miniaturisation.

Although the results from some of these studies are hopeful, research is still minimal and too insufficient to recommend stem cell therapy as a treatment for hair loss. In other words, stem cell therapy is still at a very early stage.

Therefore, do not be tempted by companies that claim they can treat your hair loss with stem cell therapy.

Stem cell therapy seems promising, but it is not nearly as effective as it should be. In addition, the procedure is costly, and there are also concerns about tumourigenicity - the tendency of cultured cells to develop tumours.

Before stem cell therapy can be considered safe and effective, years of additional research are needed. Probably until 2030. So we will have to wait a couple of more years.

Hair transplants.

A hair transplant (sometimes referred to as a "hair restoration technique") is a procedure in which the surgeon uses your hair follicles to fill in bald spots elsewhere on the head.

It is essential to know that a hair transplant is a repair technique and not a prevention technique. It does not stop the hair loss process.

With a hair transplant, the surgeon creates a new hairline with hair from the back of your head. These hair follicles are DHT insensitive and, therefore not affected by hair loss. However, your "old" hair behind the newly created hairline will still continue to fall out. You might be able to opt for a 2nd hair transplant, but it isn't something we would recommend.

This is because the donor area - the area where you get the hair follicles from - is limited. You can only harvest X number of strands and move them to the front. Generally, that amount (X) is not enough to cover the entire top of the head (Y) with a good density.

Therefore, you must treat your hair loss with finasteride before considering a hair transplant. Not doing so would be a waste.

New medications for hair loss

Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center in New York have discovered that a group of drugs known as JAK inhibitors can help stimulate hair growth and regrowth. These drugs target the activity of enzymes called Janus kinase (JAK), which are found in hair follicles. By inhibiting the JAK enzymes, the drugs appear to stimulate the hair follicle to return to the anagen growth phase of the human hair cycle, eventually pushing new hair shafts up and out of the scalp.

Scientists at the University of Manchester have also been experimenting with the drug cyclosporine A, which suppresses the activity of the protein SFRP1. This protein is thought to be involved in inhibiting hair growth, and suppressing it would thus stimulate hair growth.

Nevertheless, cyclosporine A is not a suitable treatment for hair loss because it is highly toxic and suppresses the body's own immune system. A better alternative would be WAY-316606.

It acts similar to cyclosporine A, but is less toxic. Please note that WAY-316606 is nonetheless still in its early stage. On the internet, you'll undoubtedly find websites that try to sell you the product, but it is still way too early for that.

Current treatments for male pattern baldness

There are currently two medically approved treatments for male pattern baldness in the UK: minoxidil and finasteride.


Finasteride, known under the brand name Propecia, is a drug used to treat male pattern hair loss. It is available in 1 mg tablets and is taken by mouth.

Male hair loss is caused by dihydrotestosterone (DHT). A hormone present in the scalp that damages the hair follicles. DHT disrupts the hair growth cycle, causing hair to shorten, fall out more easily and grow back more difficultly. Finasteride works by reducing DHT production by 70%, stopping hair loss in 80% of men.


Minoxidil, known under the brand name Rogaine, is available as a lotion and a foam and in different strengths: 2% and 5%. Minoxidil can be bought at a pharmacy and is available without a prescription.

Minoxidil stimulates the hair growth cycle and extends the active growth phase (the period during which the hair grows). Minoxidil also improves the blood supply around the hair follicles, allowing them to absorb more nutrients. Combined, these effects result in an increase in hair growth, thickness and density.

Finasteride vs Minoxidil

Unlike finasteride, minoxidil has no effect on DHT - the hormone that causes hair loss. So it does not stop hair loss. Instead, minoxidil is used to treat thinning hair! Keep that in mind when you're looking to buy a product for your hair loss needs.

Key points

Men are increasingly aware of their appearance. Hair loss, which used to be seen as normal, is now a problem for many. Therefore, the interest from the scientific community in solving this problem increased.

Recent research shows that stem cell therapy, JAK inhibitors, cyclosporine A and WAY-316606 may help combat hair loss. However, it must be said that the research is very scarce, and it will certainly be years before we can say with certainty that these drugs are effective.

Fortunately, some treatments are already available: minoxidil and finasteride. And it is finasteride, in particular, that is most effective in preventing hair loss. It stops hair loss in more than 80% of men.

Minoxidil, on the other hand, does not stop hair loss and is primarily used to treat thinning hair. Thus, both drugs have their own qualities.


Why is there still no cure for baldness?

Until recently, hair loss in men has never been seen as a problem. As a result, research is still in its infancy. Moreover, hair loss is labelled a cosmetic issue and not a disease. Therefore, the urgency to find a remedy to the problem is lower compared to, for instance, cancer research.

Having said all that, there is already a very effective medicine that can treat hair loss: finasteride. It might not cure hair loss, but it sure is able to stop it in most men.

If my father is bald, will I go bald too?

Genetics plays a very important role. In other words, if your father is bald, you will likely be given the same fate.

Can stem cells cure baldness?

Possibly, but at the moment, they most certainly do not. Stem cell therapy has shown positive results in laboratory studies. However, years of additional research is needed before anything can be said about its efficacy in human. Moreover, there are still several issues to be resolved. For example,