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Although it is normal to drop about 50-100 hairs a day, too much hair can cause great pain and stress. With the increasingly fierce social competition, people’s work and study pressures are increasing, and the “Mediterranean” and rising hairlines are becoming more and more common.
At present, there are no effective drugs for treating hair loss, and patients often can only seek the help of hair transplant surgery. Recently, a paper published on PLOS Biology stated that a drug originally used to treat osteoporosis may help hair loss patients to relieve or even cure alopecia.

For physiological reasons, men are often the main victims of alopecia.
Currently, there are only two drugs on the market – minoxidil and finasteride can treat men’s hair loss.
Interestingly, these two drugs were not originally designed to treat hair loss: minoxidil was initially a hypertension drug, and finasteride was developed for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia.
However, both drugs have mild side effects and the efficacy is often not satisfactory to patients. For patients, in addition to these two drugs, the only choice is hair transplant surgery.

Researchers at the University of Manchester Dermatology Research Center conducted the study. They sought to develop a new method to promote human hair growth and to search for new, well-tolerated drugs to treat men’s hair loss. For this reason, they turned their attention to an immunosuppressive drug called cyclosporine A (CsA).

The germinal mechanism in drug side effects

In 1970, a Swiss pharmaceutical company discovered a new type of fungus in soil samples collected from Norway and Wisconsin in the United States. The researchers noticed that both fungi can synthesize a substance called cyclosporine.
A year later, they found that such compounds have immunosuppressive effects. After a series of tests, cyclosporin A was approved by the FDA in 1983, and it has been widely used to suppress immune rejection and autoimmune diseases caused by organ transplantation.

However, this drug can cause a series of side effects, such as convulsions and diarrhea, and one of the strange side effects is more innocuous: it will bring unexpected hair growth.

In order to find out the mechanism of CsA-induced hair growth, a team led by Professor Ralf Paus of the University of Manchester applied CsA to human scalp tissue with hair follicles and performed a complete gene expression analysis. The results show that CsA inhibits the production of SFRP1 protein, which inhibits the growth of many tissues, including hair follicles.

Ralf Paus

The study revealed a completely new mechanism of action behind this widely used drug. At the same time, the study also revealed why CsA, a drug that often brings unexpected hair growth effects, removes the body’s own “hair growth molecular brakes” SFRP1.
Although the side effects of CsA make it impossible for us to directly use it for the treatment of hair loss, the discovery of this mechanism has made SFRP1 protein a new, promising and health-harmful breakthrough in the development of hair loss drugs.

Safe new hair growth drug?

Since then, the task force has been working to find ways to inhibit the effects of SFRP1. After some investigations, the research team found that WAY-316606, a drug originally used for the treatment of osteoporosis, had the same efficacy as CsA by inhibiting the production of SFRP1. When they used WAY-316606 to act on human hair follicles, they also had a strong hair growth effect like CsA.

Dr. Nathan Hawkshaw, the lead author of this study, believes that the use of the drug WAY-316606 or similar compounds in the hair loss of human scalp will be comparable to CsA, and even better to promote hair growth without causing side effects.

Fluorescence photos of hair follicles: connexin (red) and nucleus (blue)

Waiting for clinical trials

According to Hawkshaw, this conclusion can not be made without the generosity of more than 40 patients with hair loss. “Before CsA’s hair growth effects were studied in mice, the results they got were completely different molecular mechanisms. If we still rely on mouse experiments to conduct our research, we will get completely wrong conclusions. “Hawkshaw said,” More than 40 patients generously donated their scalp tissue, so that we can extend the experiment to the organ level, which makes our research has a very good clinical relevance, because many other studies on hair only At the cell level.”

The drug has never been considered for treating hair loss, so its promotion of human hair growth is exciting: it will probably contribute to people suffering from hair loss some day in the future.

Hawkshaw said: “Obviously, we still need clinical trials to test the safety and efficacy of this drug and similar compounds in patients with alopecia.” After fully verifying the efficacy and safety of the drug, it is expected to be the first to treat alopecia. There is a good effect of topical drugs. Perhaps by that time, patients suffering from hair loss will no longer need to be rushed to invest in medicine and fall into the trap of false advertising and unscrupulous hospitals.

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