An active ingredient in certain glaucoma medications which inadvertently causes eyelash growth is being investigated in a trial as a possible treatment for hair loss.
Bimatoprost is regularly found in glaucoma treatments – glaucoma being an eye-pressure related illness that can lead to blindness if left untreated – and a common side effect is that it can make eyelashes longer, bushier and darker. In fact, so well known is this side effect that the drug has been used specifically to help grow eyelashes in a clinical setting.
The $64,000 question, of course, is: does it work on the scalp?
Several trials designed to answer that have been through or are in preliminary stages and early results are apparently very promising. One of the main players is company named Allergan, a global enterprise which already makes and markets a product called Lumigan, a Bimatoprost ophthalmic solution. This is the latest in a long line of trials investigating bimatoprost for genetic hair loss as the company appears to be making a concerted effort to develop an effective hair loss treatment from this existing drug.
Applied to the scalp
According to clinicaltrials.gov, Allergan’s Phase 1 trial – taking place in the US – will assess the “local pharmacokinetics and tolerability” of the drug when applied to the scalp of men with the genetic hair loss condition Male Pattern Baldness. Pharmacokinetics is the branch of science concerned with how drugs move within the body.
Male Pattern Baldness can already be treated, of course, using either or both of the only two MHRA licensed and FDA approved, clinically-proven drugs – one oral (finasteride 1mg) and one topical (high strength minoxidil). However, pharmaceutical companies are always keen to bring potentially lucrative new drugs to the table as, given this is the most common hair loss condition worldwide, there is a large potential audience.
The Allergan trial will involve just 10 participants and will see a Bimatoprost 1% formulation applied to the left side of the scalp and also the trunk area. A second formula – known as formula B – will be applied to the opposite side so that comparisons can be made. The ways in which the two formulations differ has not been disclosed.
Allergan are recruiting participants for the trial now, with completion due in October 2016. It can be assumed that if the trial data is positive and that there are no insurmountable adverse side-effects, the company will pursue a more wide-reaching clinical trial with a view to developing a product that they can bring to market.
It can further be assumed that if the product is eventually approved for use as a treatment for Male Pattern Baldness, a variant version may be developed for use on women with Female Pattern Hair Loss. This is same genetic condition as MPB but, rather than leading to defined areas of shedding – such as a receding hairline or a thinning crown, it causes overall thinning of the hair across the top of the scalp in women.
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.