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Accidentally on Purpose: The Roadmap to Tomorrow’s Breakthroughs

Where will tomorrow’s inventions and innovations come from? Most likely from today’s youth, and some of them aren’t even waiting to become adults. They are focused on finding new answers to today’s dilemmas now.

Just recently we read the article, “San Marino teens conduct study on aloe vera as hair growth treatment,” in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune about two California brothers – still in high school – who are researching the effects of aloe vera on hair re-growth. Sure, their study is small, with just three participants to date. As such, it isn’t a placebo control double blind trial in which subjects don’t know if they have the real goods or a placebo. But they are beginning to see some results for the potion their pharmacist father has developed. Nothing earth shattering, but as they say, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

Here’s a video posted by the high schoolers:

For decades men and women have searched for answers to the natural loss of hair that frequently comes with age. For all too long the only hope came from potions and lotions that had little scientific study behind them. You can still find some of these foams, creams and shampoos in drugstores. Like many other home remedies, they may deliver some success for some people, but many will be disappointed.

That won’t stop scientists – whether long established in formal laboratories or teenaged students learning the intricacies of study trials – from seeking new solutions. While many of these experiments won’t prove successful, we have no doubt that there will be breakthroughs in the future.

Today’s leading edge technology for hair restoration involves robotics and sophisticated imaging technology. Dr. Bernardino Arocha introduced the ARTAS Robotic System for hair restoration in his practice earlier this year. Earlier technology involved removing a strip of scalp before transplanting hair follicles. With the ARTAS system, Dr. Arocha can locate and collect thousands of individual follicular units accurately and consistently in one session. The result is a fast recovery and little scarring.

Computer algorithms assist in better precision that is less likely to damage the graft from the back of the patient’s scalp. These hair follicles are dihydrotestosterone (DHT)-resistant and therefore aren’t susceptible to genetic hair loss when transplanted to the top of the scalp.

At one time, the idea of transplanting hair follicles from the back of the scalp to the front was simply an idea. It took scientific study and testing to refine that idea and eventually lead to today’s breakthroughs, such as the ARTAS Robotic System.

Today most people think of Rogaine, the brand name for minoxidil, as a common treatment for hair loss. But it originally wasn’t even intended for that purpose. It was used to treat high blood pressure, but users discovered that hair re-growth was a side effect. Even today it’s not a cure for hair loss, but patients who continue to use it usually experience some success.

Scientists continue to study new and different ways to combat hair loss. There are other drugs on the market and we predict that we will continue to see new drugs. We won’t know for some time whether some form of aloe vera proves to be a successful treatment. It will take more sophisticated studies than the current one run by two teenage brothers in California. But who knows – they could be the ones to take this potential solution to the next level.

It’s exciting to see young people interested in solving problems and setting out to become the next generation of researchers. Dr. Arocha and others at the Arocha Hair Restoration offices in Houston and Dallas promise we will stay on top of the latest breakthroughs and work with patients to find the best solution for each individual.