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A New Definite Cure For Baldness is on The Way

Scientists have discovered a potential new cure for baldness in the form of a drug originally designed to treat osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become weak and brittle.

While human trials still need to be conducted with the drug that was designed to treat osteoporosis, experiments with donated hair follicles in the lab could open up a new approach for treating hair loss. The new compound, known as WAY-316606, targets a protein which is known to halt hair growth.

“The fact this new agent, which had never even been considered in a hair loss context, promotes human hair growth is exciting because of its translational potential: It could one day make a real difference to people who suffer from hair loss,” said lead scientist Dr Nathan Hawkshaw, from the University of Manchester.

Currently, only two drugs, minoxidil and finasteride, are available for the treatment of male pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia) — the classic type of receding hair-line hair loss in men. Both have moderate side effects and often produce disappointing results.

The only other option open to patients losing their hair is transplantation surgery. The approach was to first identify the molecular mechanisms of an old immunosuppressive drug, Cyclosporine A (CsA).

Cyclosporine A has been commonly used since the 1980s as a crucial drug that suppresses transplant rejection and autoimmune diseases. However, it often has severe side-effects, the least serious of which is that it enhances cosmetically unwanted hair growth.

The Manchester team began with a search for novel agents for treating male pattern baldness, it discounted some candidates which were known to have hair growth as a side-effect because of their other harmful effects.

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 shaft production increased significantly in the treated follicles.

The research, published in the journal PLOS, is “clinically very relevant” since most previous similar studies have relied on cell cultures, said Dr Hawkshaw. He added: “Interestingly when the hair growth-promoting effects of CsA were previously studied in mice, a very different molecular mechanism of action was suggested. Had we relied on these mouse research concepts, we would have been barking up the wrong tree.”

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