A leading American university has announced plans for a study into how effective a technique known as platelet-rich plasma is on people with genetic hair loss
Researchers at Chicago’s Northwestern University are currently recruiting an estimate 30 people with either Male Pattern Baldness
or Female Pattern Hair loss
for the trial. These two conditions are currently treatable, but platelet-rich plasma has been identified as a possible way to encourage improved treatment outcomes when used alongside more proven medications.
Trial to last 18 months
The Chicago trial is slated to last 18 months, spread over two phases, and is based around an emerging technology in which blood is extracted from a patient’s body and then put through a centrifuge. The centrifuge causes the blood to separate; what doctors do next has earned the technique ‘the vampire treatment
’ because they separate the platelet-rich part of the blood which contains growth factors and re-inject it into the scalp.
The American doctors seem determined to assess the effect of PRP treatment on its own, and have stipulated that participants must be willing to abstain from using either minoxidil or finasteride 1mg the only two clinically-proven treatments for genetic hair loss for the duration of the trial.
In fact, it may transpire that PRP is one day offered quite routinely alongside these two existing hair loss drugs. This is because existing studies have not really managed to show that PRP therapy is a convincing primary treatment option in its own right, but have found that it may be effective as a “booster”.
Doctors in Barcelona
were among the first to demonstrate that PRP is not without merit on people with genetic baldness. The Spanish team from the International University of Catalunya stated: “Application of PRP showed a positive effect on AGA (androgenic alopecia, also known as genetic hair loss) and could be regarded as an adjuvant therapy for AGA.” An ‘adjuvant’ therapy is a secondary treatment that is used to enhance the response of the initial, primary treatment.
These findings were sadly not repeated in a second small scale trial
the location of which was not disclosed when it was reported by the medical website Healio which apparently saw a positive response to PRP treatment in just 13.3 per cent of the women with Female Pattern Hair Loss who tried it.
Another more recent study
released its findings in February 2017. This investigated the effects of activated versus not activated PRP injections in relation to genetic hair loss. The calcium-activated solution appeared to produce better results than the non-active solution, and both produced better regrowth results than the control areas of each participants' scalps, which were injected with a placebo. Whether these results were anywhere near as effective as the current MHRA licensed and FDA approved hair loss treatments
still remains to be seen.
More positive was a study in Egypt
which used the PRP method on people with the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata
, which manifests itself as sudden, patchy hair loss. They wanted to see how treatment with PRP compared to minoxidil (as well as a placebo) and found that both PRP and minoxidil performed unsurprisingly better than the placebo. While they stated that PRP is a more effective treatment for Alopecia Areata
than topical minoxidil 5% it should be pointed out that minoxidil is known to be dose-dependent.
Boosters for genetic hair loss
The results of the Chicago study are not due until 2019, at which point they may well be able to confirm what the Barcelona study found: namely that PRP is a good “booster” for Male Pattern Baldness and Female Pattern Hair Loss treatment.
Interestingly, other hair growth supporting products
are already available these include an FDA-cleared hand-held device called the LaserComb
, which uses laser light energy to stimulate the scalp, and Hair Vitalics
food supplements which feature a proprietary blend of essential vitamins, minerals and amino acids including biotin, zinc and selenium for the maintenance of normal healthy hair growth.
Anyone worried about losing their hair, whether through prolonged thinning or sudden hair fall, should contact a specialist for a professional diagnosis of their condition along with suitable treatment recommendations based on their findings.