Researchers have been granted $1.77 million to help fund a five-year study which will aim to deliver a better understanding of the progression of cicatricial alopecia so effective treatment can be developed.
The National Institutes of Health awarded the grant to Pratima Karnik, Ph.D., assistant professor of dermatology at Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University, whose study is titled “PPAR-gamma Signaling in Normal Pilosebaceous Units and in Scarring Alopecia.”
Unlike most hair loss conditions, currently there is no treatment for cicatricial alopecia - also known as scarring alopecia - a condition that refers to hair loss as a result of inflamed hair follicles. There are several reasons for inflammation of the hair follicles that can lead to scarring and subsequent hair loss. External factors like burning and scalding can do permanent damage and there are autoimmune problems like granulomas, lupus erythematosus, recurring bacterial or fungal infections, and scalp ringworm are known to play a part. But Dr. Karnik has reason to believe there are also environmental factors that can have an effect on cicatricial alopecia.
“In preliminary studies that formed the basis of the NIH award, we provided insight into highly complex interactions between hair follicle cells and environmental factors that may cause cicatricial alopecia. This funding provides us the support necessary to aggressively test novel ideas aimed at understanding progression of these diseases and the development of novel therapeutic strategies,” Dr. Karnik said.
Dr. Karnik and her research team’s previous studies have suggested that unprocessed lipids set the stage for developing scarring hair loss and that either processed lipids are necessary for hair growth or unprocessed lipids are toxic. The NIH grant will allow them to continue research on linking a defect in lipid processing to cicatricial alopecia.
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