The global market is projected to hit $2.7 billion in 2017, a 35 percent rise since 2010, according to the research company Statista. Breaking this down, hair-restoration surgical operations rose 57 percent from 2010 to 2014, and more than 3 percent of all U.S. households use a hair-loss product.
With all that money on the table, more than 55 labs around the globe are experimenting with solutions that range from stem cells and bioprinting to hair cloning and robotic transplants. The San Diego–based biotech company Samumed has been getting a lot of attention for its hair-loss drug, the evocatively named SM04554, a topical solution that targets the same genes that control fetal growth. Zap the right gene the right way, and you feasibly can regrow hair. Since 2008, the firm has raised $220 million and has set its sights on a valuation of $12 billion. (Its market cap currently is $6 billion.) Hong Kong–based Pineworld Capital has invested $6 million in Histogen, another regenerative medical company based in San Diego. It markets an injectable neonatal-cell scalp treatment that is slated to go on the market in China next year. The Japanese cosmetics giant Shiseido has invested an undisclosed amount since 2013 in a partnership with RepliCel Life Sciences, a stem-cell research outfit (see video below) RepliCel Life Sciences plans to launch a $1,000 treatment by 2018, most likely in the form of topical dermal injectors.