Despite extensive research, scientists are yet to discover a cure for all the various hair loss conditions that affect men and women. Scientists do, however, better understand many of the mechanisms behind hair loss, which yields some hope for the development of permanent cures. Here are some of the most recent discoveries:
Dermal papillae cells
Scientists have understood the role that dermal papillae cells play in new hair growth for a while now, but recent developments have revealed and exciting new potential treatment. By extracting healthy cells from the back of a subject’s head, scientists were then able to “clump” them together in the lab. These clumps were then re-implanted into the subject’s scalp where they started the growth of new hair in previously bald areas. Research into dermal papillae cell regrowth is ongoing with teams from the UK’s Durham University and Columbia University Medical Centre in New York working on developing this hair loss treatment which could be used to cure Scarring Alopecia.
People affected by alopecia-related conditions may have heard of the recent advances in treatment offered by the drug ruxolitinib. Ordinarily used to treat bone marrow cancers, researchers discovered that ruxolitinib killed the T-cell immune cells which are known to cause the immune reaction that causes hair to fall out. In a case study involving four adult males with alopecia, all four regrew their hair within five months after taking the drug twice per day. At the moment ruxolitinib (brand name, Jakafi) is only approved for use in treating intermediate or high-risk myelofibrosis, and side effects can include shingles and weight gain. It is early days for this hair loss treatment, with more clinical trials needed before any firm conclusions can be drawn, but so far ruxolitinib seems promising.
Alopecia Universalis is the most extreme type of alopecia. It leaves sufferers bald, often losing their eyebrows and eyelashes as well as the hair on their head and other parts of their body. A new study at America’s Yale University School of Medicine used the rheumatoid arthritis drug, tofacitinib (brand name, Xeljanz) to successfully regrow the hair of a 25 year old male Alopecia Universalis and plaque psoriasis patient in eight months. The subject also regrew his eyebrows, eyelashes and other body hair during the trial, for the first time in seven years. Whilst this is an exciting breakthrough for Alopecia sufferers, the drug is currently only approved for treatment of arthritis. Tofacitinib also has some serious side effectswhich need to be carefully considered. Clinical trials are underway to see if the drug can be developed as a potential treatment, and to study the side effects of tofacitinib in combatting Alopecia.
New stem cell developments
Long thought to be the next frontier in treating dozens of conditions in addition to hair loss, stem cells are still being researched for their potential use in reversing hair loss. The Aderans Research Institute has been focusing on taking the two primary cell types within hair follicles – fibroblasts and keratinocytes – and growing them in their laboratories. The two cell types are then “recombined” and implanted into the subject’s scalp where they should begin to grow new hair naturally. Again, this treatment is still experimental and does not yet have sufficient scientific proof to say whether it is suitable for all men and women affected by hair loss. This particular stem cell technique is also unsuitable for treating conditions like Alopecia. Although these developments offer some hope to those experiencing hair loss, they are all still in the testing phase. Anyone concerned about hair loss should seek professional assistancesooner rather than later, allowing them to begin treatment with one of the regimes already proven to halt or reverse hair loss.
The Belgravia Centre
The Belgravia Centre is the UK’s leading hair loss clinic, with two locations in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation or complete our online consultation form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our extensive Hair Loss Success Stories gallery, which is the largest collection of ‘Before & After’ treatment pictures in the world, demonstrating the levels of success that so many of our patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.