Question: I remember reading about a brittle bones drug shampoo to treat hair loss. Can you tell me what it’s called and where I can get it?
Answer: Hi, Abe. The product we believe you are referring to is known as WAY-316606 and is not yet available outside of clinical trials, as far as we are aware.
In May 2018 it was announced by researchers at Manchester University in the UK, that a drug developed to treat osteoporosis had been shown to boost hair growth in as little as two days when used topically. This information was based on lab-based tests on hair follicles, not on human trial data, and was published in the PLOS Biology medical journal.
This medication is cyclosporine, which has also been shown to promote hair growth in cases of Alopecia Areata in separate clinical trials.
At the time, the lead researcher, Dr. Nathan Hawkshaw told The Sun, “The fact this new agent, which had never even been considered in a hair loss context, promotes human hair growth is exciting because of its translational potential: it could one day make a real difference to people who suffer from hair loss. I’m very optimistic it could work.
In lab tests, the drug started promoting growth in hair follicles in just two days — that’s pretty quick… We are looking at using it as a topical treatment, a gel or shampoo, that could reach the follicle.”
However, this appears to be the last bit of information shared regarding the development of this brittle bones medication as a potential hair loss solution. This could mean that research stalled – this can happen due to a lack of funding – or was abandoned. Trials can be cancelled for a number of reasons, including poor results in relation to the candidate’s safety, tolerability, and/or efficacy.
Hair growth and hair loss are distinct and separate entities, so it is worth noting that something which promotes hair growth, does not automatically qualify as a hair loss treatment.
For example, hair supplements – such as Belgravia‘s highly-targeted range of Hair Vitalics food supplements – may contain ingredients such as biotin, selenium and zinc which contribute to the maintenance of normal healthy hair growth. This does not, however, make them a treatment for hairloss.
Also, whilst many haircare products are marketed as being a ‘hair loss shampoo’ or ‘shampoo for thinning hair’, for instance, these are dubious claims given they are cosmetic products and any results that give the user the appearance of fuller hair are based on creating illusions. They essentially provide a ‘smoke and mirrors’ effect of making the hair look thicker temporarily, but do not actually treat the underlying hair loss or thinning hair.
The respected UK consumer magazine, Which? ran an interesting article on this subject in 2016, where a trichologist, a dermatologist and a chemist found the claims made by shampoos purporting to be for thinning hair to be largely false.
Similarly, a test carried out on the Channel 4 show Supershoppers found caffeine shampoo – often touted as a hair loss remedy – to have little effect. This ties in with leading caffeine shampoo brand Alpecin being forced to remove its hair loss reduction claims in 2018 by the advertising standards watchdog.
One of the reasons a topical medication is more effective as a leave-in formulation – for instance high strength minoxidil liquid – than a shampoo-based product is because of the absorption time required. Proper absorption of medication via the scalp takes significantly longer – over an hour – than the length of time shampoo remains on the head for. Furthermore, shampoo is also diluted by the water when you are washing your hair, lessening its potential efficacy.
It is first necessary to determine the precise hair loss condition present before appropriate treatment recommendations can be made. However, there are currently no hair loss treatment shampoo products that are MHRA-licensed nor FDA-approved for any condition.
Male Pattern Baldness is the most common form of hair loss in men and this has two clinically-proven medications – one oral and one topical, which is available in a range of different strengths as it is a dose-dependent drug. Further hair growth supporting products, including food supplements and LaserBand devices which stimulate the follicles, are often worthwhile additions to complement this approach. But, again, there is no shampoo to treat hair loss from this hereditary condition, with or without medication for brittle bones.
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.