At present, only 2 medications, finasteride and minoxidil are obtainable for treating the androgenetic alopecia (male pattern baldness)-the typical kind of thinning hair-line hair loss in males. However, the side effects and unsatisfactory regrowth results make these drugs a mediocre option for people who want their hair back. In order to see why the drug promotes hair growth, the scientists also conducted a full gene expression analysis of the follicles.
Lead study author Nathan Hawkshaw said the finding showed real hope for those who have been living with hair loss with no real solution for years.
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Scientists initially studied an old immunosuppressive drug called CsA, which has a side-effect of hair growth. It was found that the drug reduced the expression of a protein (SFRP1) which hindered the growth of tissues, including the hair follicles.
After some work into how and to what extent SFRP1 is inhibited by CsA and the effect that Wnt ligand activity (canonical WNT signalling is inhibited by SFRP1) has on anagen and hair shaft formation, the team revealed that WAY-316606 (an osteoporosis treatment) antagonises SFRP1. But it was found in lab experiments that it made hair follicles donated by men with male pattern baldness to maintain hair growth for longer. But the side effects were so serious that the team decided not to use it for hair loss.
However, Dr Hawkshaw said that further clinical trials will be needed to test the safety as well as effectiveness of the drug in people. In the US, there are around 50 million men and 30 million women affected by hair loss, which United Kingdom -based researchers said could be the source of "psychological distress".
Although still to be tested in clinical trials, researchers believe the discovery could open up a whole new approach to treating hair loss in both men and women. As of now, the most effective treatment for balding is opting for a hair transplantation surgery.