Posts tagged with "WIRED"

Scientists are working on a gene-hacking drug that could treat baldness

September 15, 2022

Using gene modification techniques, a team of researchers has come up with a new treatment for balding, Wired reports — a condition experienced to varying degrees by two-thirds of American men by age 35.

The team members—associated with the University of California-Irvine and a biotech company called Amplifica—believe they’ve identified the signaling pathway that drives hair growth to find new ways to stop stem cells from giving up on producing hair follicles.

Experiments with mice—as detailed in a new paper published in the journal Developmental Cell last month—have been promising. The mice were genetically modified to have the hair growth signaling pathway turned on permanently.

The result, according to a report in Futurism:The mice rapidly grew hair, in a promising first step towards a potentially groundbreaking treatment for an incredibly common condition—especially considering that current treatment options like hair transplants and hair growth drugs are invasive and expensive.

Using RNA sequencing, the team found that a molecule called SCUBE3, which appears to hack follicles into producing hair again, was being expressed by the mice that had their genes modified.

In an especially promising twist, the technique even worked in mice that had human hair follicles grafted to their skins.

There’s much work to do before the treatment could be used on people. But UCLA professor and Amplifica chief scientific officer Maksim Plikus has no problems envisioning a future in which SCUBE3 is a simple, Botox injection-like treatment for balding patients.

“You have a patient sitting in a dentist-like chair, they close their eyes, and then you go tch, tch, tch, tch,” Plikus told Wired.

The molecule would simply be injected into the scalp less than a millimeter into the skin, a procedure that would take less than 20 minutes, according to Plikus.

The system does have one major flaw: what if patients don’t have hair follicles to begin with? In that case, they’ll be stuck with the option of having new follicles transplanted.

Despite that limitation, scientists are investigating new ways of addressing an issue faced by the majority of the male population—and a large chunk of the female population as well—with options that are far less invasive and potentially much cheaper.

Research contact: @futurism

Taking your measure: At Redthread, the perfect pair of jeans is just a 3D body scan away

May 15, 2019

For every woman we see on the street, strutting her stuff in a skintight pair of jeans, there’s another in a dressing room somewhere, quietly swearing because she cannot find of pair that fits both her waist and her hips.

In fact, Meghan Litchfield, the founder and CEO of San Francisco-based Redthread recently told Wired that she spent years dreading going into a store to shop for jeans.

There were the garden-variety complaints: inconsistent sizing between brands, the way back pockets stretched or sagged, the humiliation of walking into a dressing room with half a dozen options only to walk out empty-handed. Even the best candidates were ill-fitting. Most of the time, she’d buy jeans one size up to fit her hips; then, ask a tailor take them in at the waist.

Litchfield, formerly a vice president at GoPro, figured there must be a way to shop that wasn’t so demoralizing. Instead of taking off-the-rack clothes to the tailor, what if she could buy her clothes tailor-made? And what if she could make that happen for other women, too?

Now, Wired reports, her company creates bespoke clothing for anyone with a smartphone. Customers choose an item from Redthread’s website, fill out a “fit quiz,” and capture a series of full-body photos with their phone. Redthread pulls 3D measurement data from those photos and, combined with a customer’s fit preferences, creates a made-to-order item.

Redthread currently offers an essential ankle pant, essential wide leg pant, a tee, and a snap jacket—fitted to the customer’s personal requirements, hand-sewn in San Francisco, and shipped to the front door in a week for just $4.99. If customers don’t like the results, that $4.99 is quickly refunded; if the patent-pending technology provides the perfect fit, the full price is invoiced ($128 for the ankle pants and $78 for the tee).

The result, Litchfield hopes, will go beyond simply outfitting a more diverse set of body types. It will upend the way clothes are bought, sold, and designed in the future.

Redthread licenses its photographic measurement technology from a company called CALA, which lifts 15 exact measurements from the pictures the customer sends in. The company then uses those measurements to tailor a garment in a dozen or so places before shipping it out.

This kind of customization represents “a huge shift in the industry,” says Sophie Marchessou, a partner at McKinsey who consults on retail brands. A McKinsey report on The State of Fashion in 2019 pointed to personalization as a key trend— especially among younger customers, noting, “They have a desire to individualize products, and they’re often willing to pay a premium for it.”

While custom-made clothing might save retailers money on returns and overstock, Marchessou says it’s not yet sustainable for most brands to ship out custom-produced single orders. Technologies like automated sewing and 3D printing for clothes could make it easier to scale up a bespoke garment business (and also drive down costs), but those technologies aren’t widely accessible yet.

Litchfield, for her part, told Wired that she imagines a world “where stacks of apparel inventory and sizes are eliminated, everyone has their measurements in a digital wallet, and all clothing is created on-demand, personalized to each person.” She thinks we’ll get there, eventually—one pair of made-to-measure pants at a time.

Research contact: @WIRED