Researchers from the Wake Forest University Health Sciences department have announced a clinical trial which seeks to understand whether platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy can treat hair loss
caused by Androgenic Alopecia - better known as Female Pattern Hair Loss
. It will also explore whether this treatment improves the quality of life of the participants.
PRP therapy involves taking blood from a person and re-injecting enriched elements of that blood back into targeted areas, in this case the scalp. It is used as a popular cosmetic treatment - often known as a Vampire Facelift
- as a result of its alleged anti-aging properties.
Prior research conducted by the International University of Catalonia in Barcelona
revealed it could be useful for treating hereditary hairloss when used in conjunction with clinically-proven treatments.
This interventional study is due to be carried out from May 2018 under the direction of Principal Investigator Rita Pichardo, MD.
A diagram explaining Platalet Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP)
The trial's official title is registered on the ClinicalTrials.gov
website as 'Evaluating the Efficacy of Platelet-rich Plasma Therapy in the Treatment of Androgenic Alopecia'.
Researchers are recruiting 16 female participants aged 18 years and over who must have proof of an Androgenic Alopecia diagnosis as explained by "one or more clinical features".
Volunteers cannot be on any hair loss treatment
, or have "undergone 2-week washout period if recently on medication(s) for alopecia".
Exclusion criteria includes being pregnant or breastfeeding, experiencing 'an infection, metastatic disease or certain skin conditions which could worsen or spread with injections'
being diagnosed with anaemia
, having a blood/bleeding disorder and receiving anticoagulant therapy.
At the first 'baseline' visit, the participants will be randomly assigned to either Group A or Group B; while Group A will receive PRP on the left side of the scalp and a placebo injection on the right side, Group B will receive PRP on the right side and a placebo on the left.
Measuring hair regrowth
Treatment visits will take place once every month for three months; a follow-up, non-treatment visit will take place after six months. Trichoscan images will be captured to document clinical progress.
In order to gauge how much PRP improves hair growth and quality of life for the participants, many factors will be analysed throughout the trial. These include: hair count, hair growth, hair density, and readings measured against the Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI), the Alopecia Density and Extent Score (ALODEX) and the Severity of Alopecia Tool (SALT).
The team hypothesises that 'PRP will improve DLQI, SALT, ALODEX, hair count (number of hairs/0.65 cm2), hair density (number of hairs/cm2), hair diameter, anagen to telogen ratio, and vellus hair to terminal hair ratio in female subjects with androgenic alopecia'.
Interestingly, although the trial is investigating Female Pattern Baldness
, which is usually measured via the Ludwig Scale, researchers have chosen to use the SALT index which is generally seen when assessing Alopecia Areata
Useful as a booster?
Despite the rising interest in PRP for hair regrowth, clinical trials
have not been able to demonstrate it can effectively treat hair loss in women - or in men. Furthermore, Female Pattern Hair Loss is progressive and will continue to cause thinning hair unless the root cause is dealt with.
PRP injections may be useful as a booster
when used alongside clinically-proven medications but they would need to be on-going as genetic hair loss is a permanent condition. However PRP can often be expensive and painful; non-invasive LLLT treatment, such as the HairMax LaserComb
, may be a more convenient option.
For women looking to prevent hair thinning and promote regrowth, female hair loss treatment
is centred around an MHRA licensed and FDA approved topical medication which opens up potassium channels in the scalp - this is thought to stimulate follicles into accelerating hair growth.
Belgravia also offers complementary hair growth boosters
as part of its customised treatment courses, where appropriate. These include clinical treatment therapy
- which combines therapeutic scalp treatment, low-power laser therapy, infra red light therapy and massage - and the one-a-day premium food supplement, Hair Vitalics for Women
. This contains key vitamins, minerals, amino acids and botanicals, including selenium, zinc and biotin which are known to promote healthy hair growth.
The estimated primary completion date of the study is May 2020, which may tell us more about the viability of PRP as a hair loss treatment going forward. If the therapy improves the quality of life of participants, then this would be another important finding, given the psychological effects
losing hair can have on women.
However, the small scale of the study indicates much larger clinical trials would need to be conducted to find out how effective PRP may be more broadly.