At The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration and Research, we have always been committed to seeking out the newest and most effective treatments for hair loss. While many of the current non-surgical treatments for hair loss have shown significant promise, we are always on the lookout to provide better options for our patients. There are several areas of particularly interesting research that are currently being pursued that may manage to successfully control several forms of hair loss. While many of these treatments are still only in the theoretical or testing phases, they are very encouraging indications of what is to come.
Treating Male Pattern Baldness (Finasteride and Dutasteride)
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is the hormone understood to be the primary cause of male pattern baldness. High levels of DHT in the bloodstream, over many years, can cause enlarged prostate glands in men. In men with male pattern baldness, DHT acts on the scalp hair to shrink genetically sensitive hair follicles until those follicles can no longer grow hair. Finasteride (currently marketed under the brand names Propecia® and Proscar®) works to block the enzymes responsible for converting the body’s natural testosterone into DHT, thus preventing the actions of DHT on hair follicles. Dutasteride, a drug currently being sold under the brand name Avodart® to treat men with enlarged prostate glands, also significantly reduces the amount of DHT in the body. However, while the use of Propecia® has been shown to cause a 65-70% decrease in the levels of DHT in the blood, Dutasteride may be able to decrease those levels by 90% or more. Of the two, Propecia® is the only one that is FDA approved to treat male pattern hair loss.
Treating Alopecia Areata (Tofacitinib and Ruxolitinib)
In alopecia areata, the body’s own immune system attacks the hair follicles and prevents them from functioning correctly. The hair follicle does remain capable of producing hair, but is hampered from doing so by the ongoing action of the immune system that keeps the follicle in a continual dormant state. JAK inhibitors are a class of drugs that have been used to alleviate the inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis by calming down the body’s natural immune response. It was initially theorized that, by inhibiting the natural immune response, these drugs might also be able to stop the action of the immune system against the hair follicles, allowing hair to regrow. Case reports have shown that two different JAK inhibitors, tofacitinib and ruxolitinib, have caused the significant regrowth of hair in patients suffering from alopecia universalis, a severe form of alopecia areata. Rigorous controlled trials need to be conducted to determine the efficacy, safety, and proper dosing of these medications in regard to hair loss. They are currently not approved for use in alopecia areata, but we are hopeful that more studies will be done in order to provide a new treatment for patients.
Treating Hair Loss from Chemotherapy (Vasoconstrictors)
In a recent article in The International Journal of Cancer, investigators in Madison, Wisconsin found that vasoconstrictors may be able to help reduce the hair loss that patients suffer during cancer chemotherapy treatments. Vasoconstrictors can restrict blood flow to the skin and are often used in conjunction with Novocain and similar numbing agents to keep the injected anesthetic in a particular spot. Applied topically to the scalp, these drugs could temporarily cut off the cells in the scalp from the body’s blood supply and thus prevent them from receiving the chemotherapy drugs delivered. During chemotherapy treatments, this would theoretically allow the strong medicines used during chemotherapy to move through the body and attack cancer cells, but keep them from reaching the hair follicles in the scalp and causing hair loss.
Treating Hair Loss from Stress
For many years, scientists studied the connection between stress and hair loss. In 2011, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles stumbled upon a promising cure for baldness while studying mice that had lost their hair due to an increase of the stress hormone corticotropin-releasing factor, or CRF. When researchers injected a compound that blocked CRF, the mice grew thick, luxurious coats in five days. The drug not only seemed to awaken dormant follicles and initiate a growth phase, but it also restored pigment, meaning that it could potentially reverse graying as well. Unfortunately this treatment is only in the very early theoretical testing phases, and just because it was effective for growing fur in mice is no guarantee it will work on humans. Actual clinical trials are still a long way off, but these results are interesting and hopeful nonetheless.
If you have questions about platelet rich plasma therapy or other of the other treatments we offer, please contact The Griffin Center to schedule a consultation. Be sure to also visit our website and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ .