One of the biggest hair loss news items of 2012 came early in the year when dermatologists from the University of Pennsylvania announced that they had found an enzyme, called prostaglandin D2 (PGD2), that they believe instructs hair follicles to stop producing hair.
After screening 250 genes implicated in hair loss they concluded that the one responsible for levels of PGD2 played “the major role”. In 17 men with hair loss, PGD2 levels were found to be three times higher in bald spots than in hairy areas.
When the original study was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine in March, George Cotsarelis, head of dermatology at Pennsylvania University, noted: “We really do think if you remove the inhibition [caused by PGD2}, you get longer hair.”
If PGD2 does prove to be the culprit, there may be two further reasons to celebrate:
1.The finding may provide an answer to not only stopping hair loss, but enabling bald men to regrow full heads of hair
2. Drugs are already available that reduce PGD2 levels; the presence of those treatments should help accelerate the time it takes to appear in a chemist near you
Hey, I’m Trying to be Mature Here
The Pennsylvania University team first applied the lotion to mice and found that it was effective in both stopping hair loss and in regenerating follicles that had stopped producing longer hairs.
“During normal follicle cycling in mice, Ptgds and PGD2 levels increase immediately preceding the regression phase, suggesting an inhibitory effect on hair growth,” the study reads. “We show that PGD2 inhibits hair growth in explanted human hair follicles and when applied topically to mice.”
Earlier work by the same team found bald men have cells capable of making hair; they have just failed to mature.
It is thought that PGD2 prevents the cells maturing. Blocking this action would allow hair to grow again.
Time to Market? Sometime During Your Next Anagen Phase
‘Blockers’ of the enzyme have already been formulated as pills to cure asthma and allergic conditions. There are already 10 drugs available that block the receptor that allows PGD2 to work. These could be turned into a lotion which could be applied to the scalp.
Dr. Cotsarelis commented: ‘The nice thing about dermatology and hair loss in general is that you can take compounds that maybe are being used as a pill and put them in a topical formulation’.
In August 2012, he said he was ‘in talks’ with several pharmaceutical companies about developing treatments and hopes to start clinical trials as early as two years time.
The Bottom Line
Notwithstanding the above, the research team also noted, ‘We certainly think it would be good at preventing hair loss but we don’t know for sure that it would regrow.’
Future studies are expected to investigate whether a protein inhibitor could also help women with androgenetic alopecia (female pattern baldness).
So, watch this space …
HTTT View: This is not the first time that Dr. Cotsarelis has heralded a ‘breakthrough’ cure for baldness. Although undoubtedly an expert in his field, the proof will be in the pudding. If it does prove to be something more than ‘premature congratulation’ then, in theory, we only have to wait another 2 – 3 years (give or take) to see the results.
To see what ultimately worked for me go here.
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