Osteoporosis drug could produce new baldness treatment


Researchers from Manchester University discovered that WAY-316606, a treatment that was initially used to treat people suffering from osteoporosis, also blocks one of the proteins that is thought to cause baldness in men and caused an increase in hair growth within a short space of time, just two days.

Researchers may have found a possible panacea to baldness using a drug originally meant to treat osteoporosis.

The study found that the drug removed an inbuilt mechanism which would induce a brake on human hair growth.

There are now two types of drugs aimed at treating male pattern baldness, minoxidil and finasteride, but neither are available on the NHS, and neither promise drastic results.

Though, human trials are still required to be carried out with the drug that was developed to treat osteoporosis, tests with donated hair follicles in the laboratory can bring up a new advancement for treating hair loss. The results were published in the journal PLOS Biology.

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Cyclosporine A is a drug used to treat autoimmune diseases and enhances hair growth as a side effect.

Dr Hawkshaw said the treatment could "make a real difference to people who suffer from hair loss". But the side effects were so serious that the team decided not to use it for hair loss. However, they decided not to go ahead with its application as a hair growth stimulator owing to its other side effects. Scientific detective work directed the Manchester team to assess the ability of the osteoporosis drug to trigger hair growth.

Though it's normal to lose up to 100 hairs from your scalp every day, excessive hair loss is distressing.

Currently, there are only two FDA-approved drugs on the market for treatment of androgenetic alopecia, or pattern balding: minoxidil (for men and women) and finasteride (for men only). In the USA, 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". In order to see why the drug promotes hair growth, the scientists also conducted a full gene expression analysis of the follicles.

This leaves hair transplant surgery as the only reliable option, until now.