Adverse Effect of Osteoporosis Drug May Help Treat Hair Loss

University of Manchester researchers reported that an osteoporosis treatment may have a positive effect on human hair follicles from those undergoing hair transplantation surgery. 

Minoxidil and finasteride are the only pharmacologic treatments available for androgenetic alopecia (also known as male-pattern balding) but they have moderate adverse effects and often do not produce satisfactory hair regrowth. Patients look to hair transplantation surgery as their only other option. 

The study authors aimed to develop new methods of promoting hair growth through well-tolerated drugs for treating androgenetic alopecia. They first examined the molecular mechanisms of cyclosporine A (CsA), a common immunosuppressant used for transplant rejection and autoimmune diseases. While it is associated with severe adverse effects, it has also been tied to unwanted hair growth.

A gene expression analysis of human scalp hair follicles treated with CsA showed that the drug lowers SFRP1 expression, which inhibits Wnt signaling. Wnt signaling is involved in the development and growth of tissues such as hair follicles. The mechanism of CsA lifting the inhibition on human hair growth was found to be independent to the drug’s immunosuppressive activities. 

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Researchers found that a non-immunosuppressant drug originally designed to treat osteoporosis (WAY-316606) targeted the same mechanism by antagonizing SFRP1. After treating the hair follicles with WAY-316606 for 6 days, the authors found enhanced human hair growth ex vivo in the same way that CsA did.  

The authors concluded, “Collectively, our study […] demonstrates that WAY-316606 is a promising new pharmacological promoter of human hair growth, whose toxicity profile is expected to be more favourable than that of CsA.” 

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This article originally appeared on MPR