An American neuroscientist has been developing a new topical hair loss
remedy after being unhappy at losing his own hair - something he now claims to have grown back.
Speaking to The New Yorker magazine, Dr. David Weinstein explained how he began secretly experimenting with various pharmaceutical hair growth solutions for years, until his wife asked why his hair was growing.
Now, he has formed his own company - River Town Pharmaceuticals - with a former Wall Street equities trader and integrative pharmacist, Michael Altman, which is dedicated to using its 'proprietary combinatorial small molecule platform to regenerate hair by reversing Male Pattern Baldness
The formula Weinstein has developed is known as RT1640 and it is applied directly to the scalp, in the same way as the only currently MHRA and FDA
-approved topical hair loss treatment, minoxidil. Interestingly, the RT1640 formula does actually contain minoxidil
as one of its three key components.
This is a drug developed from the high blood pressure medication Loniten, which came in tablet form. Minoxidil is a vasodilator which promotes localised blood flow and accelerated hair growth, it is often referred to by its first commerical brand name, Regaine
- or Rogaine in some countries, including the USA. Since February 1996 it has been available from numerous other brands under different names, however.
Although the precise biological mechanism by which minoxidil prompts this to happen is unconfirmed, it is believed to work by opening up the potassium channels. It has been used to regrow hair for both men since 1988 when its first FDA approval, and is known to be a dose dependent drug, meaning that its efficacy may improve with higher strength formulations. A once-per-day 5% foam was further approved by the FDA for use by women
, in 2014. These versions are available over-the-counter, without a prescription - in fact, in the UK they are not available on the NHS - though, minoxidil products from other manufacturers containing larger doses over 5 per cent do require a private prescription.
Minoxidil is known to have a low side effect profile, though this can increase in-line with the dosage being used, with most reports being of dry, flaky skin in the treatment area, as well as initial, temporary hair shedding.
Novel ingredient RT175
In addition to minoxidil, Dr. Weinstein's proposed hair loss solution also includes cyclosporine A. This is a natural immunosuppressant currently used to treat conditions as diverse as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, dry eye syndrome and to prevent rejection in organ transplants.
It is known to have side effects including high blood pressure, headache, kidney problems, vomiting, premature birth if used or taken during pregnancy, vomiting and hair growth. Widely considered by medical organisations as safe and effective for its current remits, it is undoubtedly that last side effect - caused by extending the active Anagen phase of the hair growth cycle
- that River Town is hoping to harness and transform. Continues below...
The novel active ingredient contained within RT1640 is a new chemical entity known as RT175. According to the River Town website, it has 'been tested in over 600 humans in FDA sanctioned clinical trials. RT175 has an outstanding safety profile, with no serious adverse events associated with its use'. We have been unable to trace any trial information or registrations on the clinicaltrials.gov database so cannot comment on this claim, and there are very few other details listed on the company's website, apart from a mention of the fact that - like minoxidil - it can also be used for Female Pattern Hair Loss
New Yorker journalist, Amos Bashad reports of his meeting, 'I looked at his head. There was a spotty, thatchy outcropping of gray-black hair. Not exactly an overflowing abundance, but hair, to be sure. “I had nothing on top
,” Weinstein said. “You can seeI grew my hair back! And it grew back more or less the color I had when I was young.
River Town intends to pursue patents and the necessary medical regulatory board approvals needed to commercialise this new product. When this is likely to happen is currently unknown. Given male and female pattern baldness are permanent, progressive conditions, anyone worried about losing their hair would be best advised to seek a professional diagnosis and advice from a hair specialist as soon as possible.
There are established hair loss treatment
options to help stabilise shedding, promote regrowth in cases of thinning hair or a receding hairline, and to help with preventing baldness
over time with continued use. The first step is always one of information-gathering, so that anyone looking into hair restoration opportunities has all the details they need to make an informed decision they feel comfortable with.