A drug originally designed as a treatment for the bone-thinning disease, osteoporosis, is being considered as a possible breakthrough treatment for bald people. Hair Loss affects around 4 in 10 men by the age of 45. At the moment there are only two drugs that help hair loss, minoxidil and finasteride.
Students at the University of Manchester studied a cancer drug called CsA that produces unwanted hair growth. They discovered it worked by reducing the activity of a protein (SFRPI) that prevents the growth of hair follicles. CsA (Cyclosporine A) unfortunately has some extreme side effects so it’s not suitable as a baldness treatment. However, scientists have found another drug WAY-316606 which is even better at targeting the SFRPI Protein.
The study was published Tuesday in the open access journal PLOS Biology. In tests, follicles donated by more than 40 patients undergoing hair transplant surgery were treated with the osteoporosis drug for six days. The follicles quickly went into the active "anagen" phase of hair growth, and began sprouting hair. After two days, the measured rate of hair growth increased significantly in the treated follicles.
Dr Nathan Hawkshaw, who leads the project at the university’s Centre for Dermatology Research, called for clinical trials to test whether the treatment was safe and effective and said that it could ultimately “make a real difference to people who suffer from hair loss”.
The team says if the drug can be applied externally, directly to a balding human scalp, it could “wake up” resting hair follicles and cause them to begin to grow again, without risking the side effects of taking the drug internally.
So this is a big step towards treating or even curing hair loss in men and women. However, there is still a long way to go before we have concrete evidence of a cure.
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