There are very few topical treatments for hair loss. However, clinical trials are currently in progress to test whether a chemical in the glaucoma drug Lumigan could help re-grow scalp hair.
Lumigan is a drug that reduces pressure in the eyes of glaucoma patients to help prevent blindness.
A few years ago, it was found that one of the side effects of the active ingredient in Lumigan called bimatoprost was increased eyelash hair growth.
Bimatoprost was then formulated in a new product called Latisse and sold as a way to increase eyelash hair length and thickness.
Scientists are now testing to see if bimatoprost could have the same effect on the scalp and re-grow hair on the head.
Lead scientist Professor Valerie Randall from the University of Bradford told Mirror.co.UK, "We wanted to see whether it would have the same effect on scalp hair, as the two types of follicle are very different.”
Randall said, "Our findings show that bimatoprost does stimulate growth in human scalp hair follicles and therefore could offer a new approach for treating hair loss disorders."
The researchers are from the University of Bradford in the United Kingdom, Farjo Medical Centre in the United Kingdom, and health company Allergan in the United States. Allergan is the maker of Lumigan. Professor Randall works for them as a consultant.
So far three experiments have been carried out.
Two of them involved human cells that were either kept in an organ culture or on the scalps of cosmetic surgery patient volunteers. The third test was performed on bald skin areas on mice. In all cases, hair growth occurred.
According to Mailonline.com, the hair “follicles treated with bimatoprost grew a third more hair than untreated samples in just nine days.”
Scalp hair follicles were determined to have the same type of receptors as eyelash hair follicles. Professor Randall said as long as the drug can be applied in a way to reach scalp hair follicles, then it should stimulate hair growth.
Phase II clinical trials are currently in progress in the United States and Germany. They involve 220 men with male pattern baldness and 172 women with female pattern baldness.
The participants will be monitored for six months and are assigned either to the bimatoprost group or the non-drug placebo group. The results should be available by the end of the year.
The researchers also intend to compare their results to those of minoxidil, a current topical drug used to treat baldness.
It will certainly be exciting to see if the use of bimatoprost can help those who have developed baldness. Hair loss can be a cause emotional distress in both men and women.
The question remains though, how expensive might this treatment be since it would not be covered by insurance. Currently, Latisse runs about $120 a bottle (a 30 day supply).
In addition, the other unknown is whether bimatoprost might cause skin darkening to occur to the scalp, which is a known side effect of Latisse.
Findings from the current laboratory research were published in The FASEB Journal.
How eye drops could stop you going bald - thanks to an unusual side effect. Retrieved Dec. 15, 2012.
Cure for baldness? Researchers find that eye drops caused eyelashes to grow. Mirror News. Retrieved Dec. 15, 2012.
Glaucoma Drug May Reverse Baldness. MedicalDaily. Retrieved Dec. 15, 2012.
Khidhir, Karzan G. et al. The prostamide-related glaucoma therapy, bimatoprost, offers a novel approach for treating scalp alopecia. The FASEB Journal. October 26, 2012, doi:10.1096/fj.12-218156 fj.12-218156
Michele is an R.N. freelance writer with a special interest in woman’s healthcare and quality of care issues. Other articles by Michele are at www.helium.com/users/487540/show_articles
Edited by Jody Smith