Dr. Goren, among your publications, you recently had a peer-reviewed manuscript titled, “Clinical utility and validity of minoxidil response testing in androgenetic alopecia.” Can you tell us in a simple manner, and 1-2 sentences, what the take away is for the average person who has hair loss and would be interested in your work?

Minoxidil topical is the only OTC drug approved by the US FDA for the treatment of pattern baldness in males and females. Only 30-40% of people will benefit from the drug after daily use for up to 6 months. We developed a simple test using plucked hairs that will allow patients to lean if minoxidil will work for them before starting treatment.

You mention the sulfotransferase enzyme test. Can you give guidance on how long the test takes, the cost, and where or when it will be available?

The results of the test are in 24 hours. The test is currently only approved in Europe. We expect to gain FDA clearance next year.

What general advice do you give to the typical male or female with androgenetic alopecia?

We usually explain to patients that androgenetic alopecia is an inherited condition; therefore, it is likely to progress and the goal of the treatment is primarily to arrest hair loss.

Approximately, how often do you do a scalp biopsy on a hair loss patient?

It is done rarely. The majority of the patients present with androgenetic alopecia which is fairly easy to diagnose.

What do you see as the most promising development in hair loss research in the next 5 years that will have practical/clinical application?

Several research projects are promising. One category is to enhance the efficacy of existing treatments. My group is researching how to increase the number of responders to minoxidil. Another research area we are very excited about is harnessing the microbiome to treat androgenetic alopecia. This research is at its infancy but very promising.

More about the expert?

Andy Goren is Professor of Dermatology at the University of Rome and President of Applied Biology.

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