Researchers discovered the drug had a dramatic impact on hair follicles in the lab, stimulating them to grow. It contains a compound which targets a protein that acts as a brake on hair development and performs a role in baldness. Research leader Dr. Nathan Hawkshaw, from the University of Manchester, stated it might “make a real difference to individuals who suffer from hair loss”. That drug was initially meant to treat osteoporosis.
Only two drugs are presently available to deal with balding (androgenetic alopecia):
- finasteride, for men alone
- minoxidil, for women and men
Neither is available on the NHS, and each has side-effects and aren’t always very efficient, so patients often resort to hair transplantation surgery as a substitute. The research, published in PLOS Biology, was carried out in a lab, with samples containing scalp hair follicles from more than 40 male hair-transplant patients. The researchers first latched onto an old immunosuppressive drug, cyclosporine A, used since the 1980s to forestall transplant organ rejection and reduce symptoms of autoimmune disease.
The scientists discovered that the drug reduced the activity of a protein known as SFRP1, a key growth regulator that affects many tissues including hair follicles. However, due to its unwanted side effects, CsA was unsuitable as a baldness remedy. The research team went on to search for another agent that targeted SFRP1 and found that WAY-316606 was even better at suppressing the protein, without many side effects. Dr. Hawkshaw informed the BBC that a clinical trial would be needed to see if the treatment was efficient and safe for individuals.
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Will hair loss be history?
Hair loss is a daily occurrence and generally nothing to fret about. Some types are temporary, and a few are permanent. A British Association of Dermatologists spokesman said: “It is a very interesting study. As the researchers say, hair loss is a common disorder and it can cause considerable harm to emotional well being, together with a loss of confidence and self-esteem. That stated, more research will have to be performed before it can be utilized by individuals with hair loss. For individuals with hair loss, treatments can be very hit or miss. There is not one which is universally effective. For that reason, new therapies are exciting as they give individuals extra treatment choices which may be effective.”