New drug could be used to treat baldness

A new drug promotes human hair growth and could be used to treat male-pattern baldness, according to researchers from The University of Manchester.

The study has been published in the journal PLOS Biology.

The drug, called WAY-316606, was originally designed as a treatment for osteoporosis. It was found that it also has a dramatic stimulatory effect on human hair follicles donated by patients undergoing hair transplantation surgery.

Currently only two drugs (minoxidil and finasteride) are available for treatment of androgenetic alopecia, however both have moderate side effects and often produce disappointing results.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Nathan Hawkshaw, said: ‘Thanks to our collaboration with a local hair transplant surgeon, Dr. Asim Shahmalak, we were able to conduct our experiments with scalp hair follicles that had generously been donated by over 40 patients and were then tested in organ cultures. This makes our research clinically very relevant, as many hair research studies only use cell culture.’

‘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.’

‘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.’

‘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.’