Male-pattern baldness may be resulted due to a protein in the scalp, as per the research that raises the possibility medicines being tested by Merck & Co. (MRK) and Actelion Ltd. (ATLN) for other uses might prevent hair loss in coming time.
Bald spots had the certain amount of a protein which is known prostaglandin PGD2 or D2 , as per the study in Science Translational Medicine. Merck's experimental treatment for facial flushing and Actelion's allergy compound, both in late- stage studies, block the protein.
As much as eight out of ten white men experience some balding before the age of 70, as per the researchers.
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)'s Rogaine and Merck's Propecia slow the loss, and some users see minute hair growth.
Several people may be able to growth of their lost hair if the inhibiting protein is removed from the scalp, said George Cotsarelis, chairman of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia.
"We really do think if you remove the inhibition, you get longer hair," Cotsarelis, a study author, said in a telephone interview. "We don't know" if the follicles will return to their former lengths, he said.
The research was sponsored by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and other medical groups as well.
The researchers worked at all the genes found in the scalp samples from 5 men, comparing the bald parts to the haired parts.
They scientists found higher expressions of the gene that produces PGD2 in the bald part, with respect to the spots with hair. With that as a guide, they found in samples of 17 people with hair loss that PGD2 was 3 times higher in the bald spots than where hair was growing. The scientists then used mice to show that excessive PGD2 decreased follicles.
Previous research finds that the stem cells that create hair are still intact in bald men. The follicles are also there, though they look smaller and produce thinner, shorter hair. Over time, the hair is so short it no longer passes the surface of the skin.
"This makes me wonder if this is the pathway," said Paradi Mirmirani, a well known dermatologist at Kaiser Permanente in Vallejo, California however wasn't involved in this research.
"In terms of therapeutics, it really opens a window to have someone come in and target these in a very narrow way."
Merck, based in Whitehouse Station which is located in New Jersey, is testing laropiprant as a flushing inhibitor to be administered with niacin.
Allschwil a Switzerland-based Actelion's setipiprant is working for the treatment for allergic inflammation of nasal pathways.
Both therapies are in the final phase of their testing which is needed for the regulatory approval.
Merck isn't researching on the role of anti-flushing drug during the hair loss, said Ian McConnell, a Merck spokesman. "We haven't seen any signals" in patient trials that the therapy might reduce baldness, he further confirmed.
Actelion isn't testing setipiprant as a baldness cure, said Roland Haefeli, a company spokesman in a release.
The role prostaglandins might play in growth of hair was hinted at by Allergan Inc. (AGN)'s Latisse, which is a man made version of prostaglandin F2-alpha, said Mirmirani. Latisse was perticularly developed for glaucoma, and doctors discovered it made eyelashes grow.
"They could pick out who was on it from the waiting room because of the super-long eyelashes," Mirmirani said in a telephone interview
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