An Essex-based company which tests clinical products is to investigate something that many people have pondered for some years: namely, will the medically-proven oral hair loss drug finasteride 1mg have any effect when applied directly to the scalp?
At present, finasteride 1mg is one of only two MHRA licensed and FDA approved medications for those with Male Pattern Baldness, the genetic condition that accounts for the majority of hair loss in men. It is designed to be taken daily in pill form, though many men have wondered if – like minoxidil, the other clinically approved and licensed hair loss product – it could somehow be applied topically.
There is no evidence of a ‘ground-up’ version of finasteride 1mg that has been applied to the scalp ever actually having worked, and it is certainly not something that is recommended by the manufacturers.
But now Swiss-based pharmaceutical Polichem have hired Chelmsford-based Princeton Consumer Research to look into the drug’s efficacy when applied directly to the skin and exposed to various forms of light therapy.
UVA and UVB light
Unsurprisingly, the methodology is not so simple as grinding up a pill and rubbing it onto test subjects’ scalps: what Polichem and Princeton are testing specifically is whether a 0.25% solution of finasteride can induce photosensitisation by using Ultraviolet A (UVA) and Ultraviolet B (UVB) light. Photosensitisation in this instance appears to mean changes to the hair, such as growth, density and hair count.
UVA and UVB light phototherapy for hair loss is usually only used in hospitals as a treatment for alopecia areata – an autoimmune disorder which causes suddenly-occurring bald patches on the scalp.
The study is currently [June 2016] in the recruitment phase, with 60 men aged between 18 and 65 being sought. On the clinical trails registration, Polichem states that: “Healthy male volunteers, drawn from the general population, will be treated with P-3074 solution (0.25% finasteride), placebo vehicle control and 0.9% sodium chloride USP (negative control) by using 6 induction applications on the back area and Ultraviolet A (UVA)/Ultraviolet B (UVB) irradiations during the 3 week induction period, a 10 day rest period, and a challenge phase of a 24-hour patch application, UVA and UVB irradiation followed by evaluation of photosensitisation over the subsequent 72 hours.”
Any man who has used finasteride within six months before the trial start will be excluded, as will anyone with type 1 diabetes or a history of severe asthma. A rapid turnaround is anticipated in terms of the results, with the study due for completion in July 2016.
Shrinking hair follicles
Finasteride was originally developed to treat enlargement of the prostate gland, but its tendency to influence hair loss was soon observed. It was then developed into the smaller, current 1mg dosage specifically as a hair loss treatment. Its main function in this respect is to inhibit a testosterone by-product named DHT; DHT causes susceptible hair follicles in genetically-predisposed individuals – those located along the top of the scalp, from crown to hairline, and the temples – to shrink, thus slowing down hair growth and leading to increasingly thinning hair and even eventual baldness.
While some men use finasteride 1mg tablets on their own, they can also be taken alongside use of topical applications of high strength minoxidil.
Hair specialists can help men to navigate the various male hair loss treatment options so anyone concerned about losing their hair but confused as to how best to deal with it may benefit from a professional consultation.
UPDATE: This clinical trial was registered as completed on 16th May 2017, however, results have not yet been published. As soon as these are made available, we will report back on the findings.
The Belgravia Centre is an organisation specialising in hair growth and hair loss prevention with two clinics and in-house pharmacies in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world’s largest gallery of hair growth comparison photos and demonstrates the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time to arrange a free consultation.