ISHRS 2014 Meeting
Is a glaucoma drug the next treatment for hair loss?
Professor Valerie A. Randall, PhD, FIBMS, FSB
Professor of Biomedical Sciences, Centre for Skin Sciences, School of Life Sciences University of Bradford, Great Britain, U.K
Hair Loss causes significant negative effects on the quality of life of affected individuals. This occurs in every culture due to hair’s importance in human social and sexual communication across the world. As common as alopecia is, treatments are very limited and vary in their effectiveness. Current treatments involve cosmetic wigs or hairpieces to surgical techniques. The main medical therapies in current use include hormone action modifiers for androgen-dependent hair loss and non-hormonal treatments for other alopecias.
Glaucoma drugs are recently being researched for hair growth. They are used to reduce intraocular pressure, but seemed to stimulate eyelash growth as a side effect. Then came about Latisse (bimatoprost), previously a glaucoma drug that is now indicated for eyelash growth. Eyelash follicles differ from scalp hair as they specialize in the protection of the eyes. When bimatoprost was tested on isolated scalp follicles it showed increased human hair synthesis of organ cultures. It also stimulated hair growth in rodent pelage follicles. Bimatoprost appears to offer a new approach to stimulate scalp hair growth clinically. It is currently in phase 2 clinical trial in the US as a topically-applied treatment for androgenetic alopecia in men. Overall, increased understanding of the hair follicle function both in health and disease and careful observation of drug side-effects are leading to new approaches for therapies for alopecia.