A clinical trial at the University of Catalonia in Barcelona, hoping to ascertain whether platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is an effective treatment for people with genetic hair loss, is due for completion this month.
PRP as a hair loss treatment
Given it is the most prevalent cause of hairloss in the world – more commonly referred to as either Male Pattern Baldness or Female Pattern Hair Loss – there is an increasing appetite for new ways to treat this complaint, with PRP being the latest treatment trend to be linked with benefitting androgenic alopecia – the condition’s medical term.
Describing their study, the University researchers write that Androgenetic Alopecia is “one of the most common forms of progressive hair loss. It’s an increasingly frequent complaint of dermatology clinic patients and has a high impact psychologically.”
PRP therapy methods involve extracting a small amount of blood from patients and then separating it using a centrifuge. The platelet-poor layer, which gathers at the top, is then discarded and the remaining blood is activated with 10 per cent calcium chloride. It is then injected back into the scalp of the patient it came from.
Collecting clinical data
Although PRP, also known colloquially as a ‘Vampire’ treatment due to the blood ‘sucking’ process, is becoming increasingly popular as a treatment for hair loss, there is currently no clinical evidence of its effectiveness.
In order to address this lack of proof scientists at the University of Catalonia in Barcelona have been investigating whether the removal of platelet-poor plasma from the blood can have an effect on the scalp’s ability to regrow lost hair. The trial’s official title, as registered on the clinicaltrials.gov website, is ‘A Prospective Double Blind, Placebo Controlled Study to Assess the Efficacy of Platelet-Rich Plasma on the Treatment of Androgenetic Alopecia’.
Its primary aim is to determine ‘the treatment efficacy by measuring hair regrowth score for each side of scalp’. Secondary goals include hoping to prove increased hair density on both sides of the scalp, which will be measured using the trichogram analysis as well as standardised photographic imaging comparisons from baseline. They further hope to demonstrate an increased anagen to telogen (hairs in the active to resting phase of the hair growth cycle) ratio which will also be measured using trichogram analysis.
The number of participants has not yet been revealed, however the men and women taking part had to meet certain criteria. This included being between 18 and 65 years of age as of March 2015, and having genetic hair loss that measured between stage II to V on the Norwood Scale for men, or was classified as I to III on the Ludwig Scale for women.
Even if they met the above requirements, anyone with other hair loss conditions, taking anticoagulants or acetylsalicylic acid, had a platelet count lower than 150 000 μL, or who smoked more than 20 cigarettes per day was excluded from taking part in the trial.
Participants in this Catalan study, which started in March, each undergo the PRP procedure three times – once every other month – then complete a follow-up visit before results are analysed, based on comparisons over the six month period.
The PRP involves approximately 18 ml of blood being taken from each volunteer, which is drawn into a tube containing 3.8 per cent sodium citrate then centrifuged at 450 g for 8 minutes. The blood mixture separates and the middle PRP layer is obtained, activated with 10 per cent calcium chloride, as previously outlined.
In order to establish a control for comparison, one side of each volunteer’s head is injected with PRP while the other half is injected with a basic saline solution placebo. The volunteers were divided into two groups, half of which received PRP on the right side of their head and the placebo on the left side, whilst the other half were treated vice versa.
Challenging current hair loss treatments
The research team, lead by Dr Ramon Grimalt PhD and Dr Rubina Alves, hopes to challenge current methods of treating hair loss by seeing if a modified version of a patient’s own blood can achieve similar results. The researchers say that PRP is predominantly comprised of platelets, and that numerous growth factors (GFs) are present within platelet granules. GFs, they state, stimulate cell proliferation and differentiation.
The report correctly states “topical Minoxidil and oral finasteride are the gold-standard therapies for Androgenetic Alopecia and are the only two drugs that have US FDA-approved indications for its treatment.” These hair loss treatments are also licensed by the UK’s equivalent medical regulatory body, the MHRA and work to inhibit the DHT responsible for causing genetic hair loss, and promote new regrowth.
Whilst the Barcelona study testing phase is scheduled to end this month, results are not slated to be announced until November so, as soon as they are published, we will bring you an update on this story.
The Belgravia Centre is an organisation specialising in hair growth and hair loss prevention with two clinics and in-house pharmacies in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world’s largest gallery of hair growth comparison photos and demonstrates the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time to arrange a free consultation.