Have US researchers found the cure for baldness?

03/12/2015

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Have researchers in the US found the cure for baldness?

There is a great deal of research and investment currently going into treatment and possible for cures for baldness. Seeing that thinning hair has been a problem for man since he first started living in caves and playing with fire, no-one is holding their breath, but it does seem that researchers in America have made realistic moves forward in solving this timeless problem.

Scientists at Columbia University Medical Centre have identified a drug which could stimulate hair growth by inhibiting a family of enzymes inside hair follicles. They have found that drugs which inhibit the Janus Kinase (KAK) family of enzymes promote rapid and robust hair growth when directly applied to the skin.

The research process

The scientific investigations have been taking place for some time and were triggered when researchers noticed that JAK inhibitors shut off the signals that provoke the autoimmune attack prevalent in alopecia areata. At first the drug was given orally but the results were mixed. It was not until the researchers gave the drug topically that they witnessed a really effective outcome.

Researchers believe that the drugs awakened the hair follicles out of a dormant state. We are not growing hair all the time – this tends to happen in cycles. The drugs were revitalising that growing cycle. Mice treated for five days with one of two JAK inhibitors sprouted new hair within 10 days, greatly accelerating the hair follicle growth phase. No hair grew on untreated control mice in the same time period.

Two of these JAK inhibitors have already been accepted in the US by the US Food and Drug administration for treatment of blood diseases and rheumatoid arthritis. However, they are still in clinical trials for use in alopecia areata (the autoimmune disease which causes hair loss).

Could it be used for male pattern baldness?

Clearly, the JAK enzymes are affected for many conditions and there are great hopes that it will prove to be useful in the arena of hair loss. But there is still a long way to go. Whereas trials on mice in scientific laboratories suggest that is can be use on alopecia there is no evidence that it can be effective on conditions such as male pattern baldness.

Angelo M Christiano, who is leading the investigations at Columbia University said in an interview to NDTV Food “What we’ve found is promising, though we haven’t yet shown it is effective for male pattern baldness. More work needs to be done to test formulations of JAK inhibitors specially made for the scalp to determine whether they can induce hair growth in humans”

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