Who would have thought that a possible cure for hair loss could simply be right before the eyes of many glaucoma patients?
Studies found that the drug Lumigan which is indicated for glaucoma, an eye condition that leads to optic nerve damage due to increased intra-ocular pressure (IOP), helps relieve hair loss.
It was already observed that continued use of the drug stimulates the growth of the eyelashes. This was due to the active ingredient of the drug which is Bimatoprost. Research suggested that this could also have the same effect on scalp hair.
Professor Valerie Randall, who is also the lead scientist in the research done at University of Bradford in Bradford, UK, said in a statement that they hoped “this study will lead to the development of a new therapy for balding which should improve the quality of life for many people with hair loss.”
There tests were able to find a molecular signalling pathway that was linked to hair growth of the follicles.
However trials are still underway to see if bimatoprost can help treat hair loss for both males and females. Although it was already FDA approved to stimulate eyelash growth, what the study hoped to achieve is to establish that the drug can also be used for the scalp since the two have varying characteristics.
Scalp hair has the tendency to be extra sensitive to hormonal changes, particularly with fluctuations in testosterone levels, which by the way is also applicable for the ladies. Eyelashes on the other hand are not affected by these changes.
In order to test the effect of bimatoprost on other hair types, the researchers performed three types of experiments. One sample tested bimatoprost on human cells that were grown in culture, the other are cells from the human scalp, and the third was done on the skin on the bald areas on mice.
Their results showed that all three came up with hair growth after it was treated with Bimatoprost.
With male pattern baldness, androgens signal specific pathways that are linked to baldness by filling in on certain receptor sites on the cells. When the connection occurs, it acts like a switch has been turned on, hardwiring the cells to adapt a certain characteristic. What bimatropost does is to signal the cells of the hair follicles to act oppositely thereby blocking progressive hair loss.
What the researchers are hoping is that the effects of bimatoprost would be much stronger compared to androgens. If so, this would make a new and very promising treatment for hair loss.
This is not the first drug that was manufactured to treat one condition which eventually showed helpful side effects when it comes to hair loss. Viagra for instance, which was originally marketed to treat erectile dysfunction was also discovered to improve hair growth. Minoxidil, which was also used primarily for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), is also known to be a popular hair loss medication today.
The phase II of the study is still underway, and results are expected to be released before the year ends.