Addpharma Inc, a South Korean drug research and development agency, has initiated clinical trials into low doses of the enlarged prostate medication, dutasteride, as a treatment for Male Pattern Baldness.
Dutasteride, which is also known by its GlaxoSmithKline brand name Avodart, is similar to the only currently MHRA-licensed and FDA-approved oral male hair loss treatment, finasteride 1mg, in that it inhibits the formation of dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
DHT is the testosterone-derivative which binds to receptors in sensitive follicles along the top of the scalp, anywhere from hairline to crown, in men - or women - with a genetic predisposition to androgenetic alopecia. This action gradually weakens the hair follicles; over time this slow destruction presents outwardly as the thinning hair and/or receding hairline we typically associate with hereditary hair loss.
By disabling DHT in adult males after puberty, once it is no longer of use to the body, these DHT-blockers have been shown to help men with Male Pattern Hair Loss maintain normal hair growth.
Though both decrease the formation of DHT, the difference between dutasteride and finasteride is that, whilst finasteride acts upon one of the two types of DHT in the body, dutasteride acts on both.
As dutasteride is a more potent drug than finasteride and stays in the bloodstream for longer, the risk of adverse effects is higher, with side effects also potentially being more persistent.
At present only finasteride 1mg is permitted, DHT-inhibitor-wise, for prescription for this condition. Even then, in the UK and USA, it must only be given to medically suitable men aged 18 and over. The reason for this is largely to do with safety concerns relating to dutasteride.
Dutasteride is used as an authorised male hair loss treatment in a few countries, including Japan, and may be used in some instances as an 'off-label' or unofficial treatment under the strict guidance of a medical professional.
Although a cursory glance at any hairloss message board will reveal many men claiming to order dutasteride from internet sources - as with any prescription-only medication - this is highly inadvisable and can be extremely dangerous.
This new Addparma trial aims to assess the pharmacokinetics and safety of a tablet known as 'AD-208' which contains 0.2mg of dutasteride, and Avodart soft capsules in 0.5mg dutasteride doses.
The clinical trial involves "healthy adult male volunteers", all aged between 19 and 50 years. Interestingly, neither the inclusion criteria, nor the exclusion criteria for these participants mentions Male Pattern Baldness or any other form of hair loss. In fact, the specification of 'healthy' men suggests they are testing these drugs on men without genetic hair loss.
According to its clinical trial registration information, the study started recruiting on 3rd January 2020. Research will be carried out at Kyungpook National University Hospital in the Republic of Korea, and has an estimated completion date of March 2020.
As such, this appears to be a preliminary test, most likely as part of an information-gathering exercise before more targeted trials take place.
We will publish updates on this investigation as information becomes available; in the meantime, you can find out more about current options for treating men's hair loss using clinically-proven medications and hair growth supporting products, on our dedicated Hair Loss Treatments page, or by having an in-person or online consultation with a dedicated specialist.
The Belgravia Centre is a world-renowned group of a hair loss clinic 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 from anywhere in the world for home-use treatment.
View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world's largest gallery of hair growth photos and demonstrates the level of success that so many of Belgravia's patients achieve.