Male baldness cure?

Enzyme block triggers hair growth

Rebecca McCarthy

Rebecca McCarthy - 10/26/2015

Attention, baldies! A male baldness cure could at last be at hand.

Angela Christiano
Angela Christiano
Photo: Columbia University

Scientists at Columbia University Medical Center have found that drugs inhibiting a family of enzymes promote hair growth when directly applied to the skin. Led by Dr. Angela M. Christiano, the research team experimented with mouse and human hair follicles and learned Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor drugs may spell relief for baldness sufferers.

"What we've found is promising, though we haven't yet shown it is effective for male pattern baldness," said Dr. Christiano in a story in Eureka Alerts. "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."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved two JAK inhibitors, one for treatment of blood diseases and the other for rheumatoid arthritis. Both are being tested in clinical trials for the treatment of plaque psoriasis and the autoimmune disease alopecia areata, which causes hair loss.

While researching treatments for alopecia areata, Christiano and her colleagues discovered that administering the JAK inhibitors orally restored hair for some suffering from the disease. They also found that applying the inhibitors topically caused mice to grow more hair by awakening dormant hair follicles.

The researchers say mice treated with one of two JAK inhibitors for five days, triggered the hair follicle growth phase, and caused sprouting of new hair within 10 days. No hair grew on the control mice that weren’t treated.

"There are very few compounds that can push hair follicles into their growth cycle so quickly," said Dr. Christiano. "Some topical agents induce tufts of hair here and there after a few weeks, but very few have such a potent and rapid-acting effect." The JAK inhibitors also produce longer hair from human hair follicles grown in culture and on skin grafted onto mice, the story says.

Christiano and her team don’t yet know if JAK inhibitors can wake up hair follicles suspended in a resting state because of androgenetic alopecia (the source of both female and male pattern baldness) or other forms of hair loss. But experiments are underway to try and find out.

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This story was based on information obtained from the AAAS. Source >>


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