There’s fresh hope today for those fighting thinning hair up top after researchers discovered an osteoporosis drug helps boost hair growth and fight baldness.
The research team from the University of Manchester in the UK, published their findings in medical journal PLOS Biology and said a drug originally designed to treat osteoporosis has a dramatic effect on human hair follicles and removes a ‘molecular break’ that’s usually responsible for thinning hair, to promote new hair growth instead.
While hair loss is more commonly associated with men, more than 55 per cent of women experience patterned hair loss as they age. For most women, the hair loss is subtle, but about 20 per cent develop moderate or severe hair loss.
There is a range of products on the market to treat thinning hair in both men and women, including oral medication and topical creams, but they have so far delivered mixed results.
Now, researchers hope that clinical trails will prove beyond a doubt that a compound used to treat osteoporosis can help boost hair growth and relieve the stress and embarrassment many feel because of their thinning mop.
For their study, the research team sought to identify the molecular mechanisms of Cyclosporine A
(CsA), which has been commonly used since the 1980s to suppresses transplant rejection and autoimmune diseases. CsA often has severe side-effects, the least serious – but most interesting – of which is that it enhances cosmetically unwanted hair growth.
However, with a little investigation, the team discovered a compound that was originally developed to treat osteoporosis, called WAY-316606, targets the same mechanism as CsA to promote hair growth – without the nasty side effects.
Lead study author Nathan Hawkshaw said the findings showed real hope for those who have been living with hair loss with no real solution for years.
“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,” he explained.
“The fact that 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. Clearly though, a clinical trial is required next to tell us whether this drug or similar compounds are both effective and safe in hair loss patients.”