American biotech firm Samumed is reportedly set to enter phase three clinical trials with a new serum that may “reverse” genetic hair loss
The California-based company, which is said to be worth $12bn, is applying a deep knowledge of how stem cells work to try and develop new treatments that will reverse the ageing process. Male Pattern Baldness
, which is a genetic condition commonly (if incorrectly) associated with older men, is a key focus.
The company has previously released Phase II trial data
that showed that the application of a solution it has named SMO4554 could increase the hair count in men who have thinning hair by 10 per cent when used for 135 days.
Updating the story, the Futurism website states that Samumed
now hopes to enter Phase III trials soon. This is the stage that needs to be successfully completed in order for medications to be passed by the necessary medical boards such as the MHRA and FDA
, so that the drugs can be released for prescription use.
Prompt regenerative cells into action
The science behind the company’s approach is certainly interesting. SMO4554 has been designed to prompt progenitor stem cells, which repair and replenish specific parts of the body, into action. It does this by manipulating a set of proteins known as WNT pathways
which tell the progenitor cells to get to work. With ageing, the WNT pathways becomes less reliable, with the result that the body stops repairing itself as effectively and adopts some of the classic characteristics of the ageing process.
Existing hair loss treatment for men
uses two clinically-proven products for preventing baldness
and encouraging hair growth. These do not involve stimulation of the WNT pathway but rather utilise either or both of the only two hair loss treatments that are currently both licensed by the MHRA and approved by the FDA - finasteride 1mg and high strength minoxidil - to intervene.
The first part of this clinically-proven approach involves the oral, one-a-day tablet finasteride 1mg
which blocks the hormone dihydrotestosterone, commonly known as DHT
. This is what binds to the hair follicles around the top of the scalp and hairline in men and women with a genetic predisposition to androgenetic/androgenic alopecia, causing gradual hair thinning, and - in men - sometimes eventual baldness. Inhibiting DHT can enable men to prevent hair loss and allow hair to grow normally, although whether the effects extend to the frontal area are unknown. Finasteride 1mg is not suitable for women at the present time.
In order to encourage hair growth, especially in stubborn areas such as a receding hairline
or at the back of the head if a thinning crown
has developed, then topical high strength minoxidil
formulations can be applied directly to the scalp, where needed. This vasodilator facilitates the opening up of potassium channels in order to actively promote hair growth.
Whether a man chooses to use one or both of these recognised hair loss solutions, their use can be further supplemented by targeted ancillary hair growth supporting products
The Futurism website
notes that Samumed has raised $300m for its research into developing a new 'cure for baldness', which certainly suggests a strong commitment from the company. Cynics may point out that a 10 per cent increase in hair over 135 days - roughly 4 and a half months - is not particularly dramatic, and that the company can only have been disappointed that a more concentrated version of SMO4554 used in trials did not lead to better results. What perhaps makes the company’s approach unique and worth watching, however, is the suggestion that its formula can actually regenerate damaged follicles. Anticipated cost information is not yet available but, at this stage, it is likely that estimates will be released soon.
Overwhelmed by options
Anyone who is worried by thinning hair
now and who has, perhaps, found themselves looking online for effective hair loss solutions, will likely feel overwhelmed by stories about the likes of Samumed and an assortment of other companies that are developing potential new treatments. Some sound advice, however, would be: don’t wait.
This is because attaining government approval to launch a new pharmaceutical product can take many years, and many projects simply end up being shelved without a product ever making it to market. Given that androgenetic alopecia is a progressive condition that usually responds best to timely intervention, it is never too soon to start with existing, proven products. Indeed, some people use hair loss treatment
not only to help regrow hair but also as a preventative measure for once their initial shedding has subsided.