A pharmaceutical company in the US has announced the results of a small UK trial into a new injection-based treatment for people with genetic hair loss
Kerastem, whose website poses the question “What if your body had the power to grow your hair back?”, has been exploring the idea that modified body fat that is re-injected back into the scalp could encourage new hairs to grow. It has recruited around 70 people for a major study into possible new treatment options for male pattern baldness
and female pattern hair loss
which it has named the STYLE
trial; the UK study appears to be something of a precursor to this.
Body fat solution injected into scalp
According to a press release from the company: “All six (100%) subjects receiving Kerastem Therapy had an increase from baseline hair counts at six months, with initial results as early as six weeks.”
The trial saw doctors perform single scalp injections of Kerastem Cell Therapy in nine healthy hair loss patients, of whom six were followed for a total of six months.
Those six volunteers saw a mean increase of 31 hairs per cm2 of scalp at 24 weeks, compared to baseline, which equated to an increase of 23 per cent. One or more of the subjects reportedly saw up to a 53 per cent increase which naturally means that at least
one other subject had a growth rate somewhat lower than 23 per cent as well. The individual results have not been released at this time.
Said lead investigator Dr David Perez-Meza: "We are very pleased with the clinical outcomes of our hair regeneration study, as they represent this procedure is safe and that results are on par or better than those of traditional medical approaches to hair loss."
The STYLE trial proper is currently underway and Dr Eric Daniels, chief medical officer at Kerastem, says he looks forward to releasing top-line, 24-week data from it later this year. He added that: “Fat and fat derived cells are now appreciated as a dynamic and vital participant in the normal cycle of hair growth.”
His words echo those of proponents of a broadly similar treatment in which Platelet-Rich Plasma
(PRP) is removed from a patient’s blood and then re-injected back into the scalp, where its “growth factors” are said to encourage new hairs to grow. With adipose fat, it is cell-enriched tissue that is delivered to the scalp.
Not a good option for the squeamish
Injections like these are regarded by many experts in the field of hair loss as secondary treatment options that, once their safety and efficacy has been clinically-proven, may work well when used alongside currently MHRA-licensed and FDA-approved options for androgenetic alopecia. This invasive option is not well suited to the squeamish, however, though various alternative hair growth supporting products
are available which are non-invasive.
The only two genetic hair loss drugs that have attained this gold standard of medical regulatory board recognition to date are finasteride 1mg and minoxidil.
The one-a-day oral tablet finasteride 1mg
is currently only deemed suitable for men over the age of 18 and is not prescribed for women. It works by inhibiting the formation of DHT
, the testosterone-byproduct which causes hair thinning via follicular miniaturisation in cases of pattern hair loss. It binds to the follicles around the top of the scalp in genetically predisposed individuals, gradually weakening and destroying them, causing the outward signs of thinning hair, hair loss and potentially eventual baldness.
Finasteride 1mg can be used alone or as one of two pharmaceutical components in male pattern hair loss treatment
courses, alongside high strength minoxidil
. This topical solution can also be used by women wanting to undergo treatment for female pattern hair loss
and is indeed the only recognised medication for women's hair loss to date. As with many aspects of hair loss, the precise reason this vasodilator, which opens up the potassium channels, assists with hair growth is unknown.
These types of clinical approaches, especially when backed by the on-going support of a hair loss specialist and regular monitoring, can often provide significant results without the need for surgical procedures.