HEADLINES Published October25, 2015 By Jerwin Jay Taping

Promising Treatment For Baldness: Inhibitors of Enzyme in Hair Follicles Promote Hair Growth

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New promising treatment for hair loss
(Photo : Matt Cardy | Getty Images News)

Different people have been suffering from different forms of hair loss, yet none of the treatments offered to date were proven successful to induce hair growth. But just recently, a team of researchers at Columbia University Medical Center has found a new approach to resolve this, and that is through blocking a group of enzymes inside hair follicles.

Angela M. Christiano, Ph.D., and her team conducted an experiment on mouse and human skin, and targeted the family of enzymes known as Janus kinase (JAK). They showed that topical treatment of an active drug that inhibits such enzymes resulted in the rapid onset of hair growth in mice.

The two FDA-approved drugs, ruxolitinib and tofacitinib - both known to have different therapeutic effects - were found effective in blocking JAK in mice and human skin. The former has been approved for treatment of blood diseases and the latter for rheumatoid arthritis.

"There aren't many compounds that can push hair follicles into their growth cycle so quickly," says Dr. Christiano in a press release. "Some topical agents induce tufts of hair here and there after a few weeks, but very few compounds have this potent an effect so quickly."

In the study, the research team found the two drugs reawakened the sleeping follicles by blocking the enzymes that caused their inactivity. Mice treated with one of the two active components for five days had hair grown within 10 days.

Researchers noticed that mice grew more hair when the drug was applied to the skin than when the drug was injected systemically. The drugs also produced longer hair in human hair follicles grown in a dish and on skin grafted onto mice.

While the researchers have found encouraging results, they have not yet shown whether it is really a cure for male pattern baldness. There is a need for further studies to create a suitable formulation containing such JAK inhibitors and test if they can induce hair growth in human scalp.

"Our findings open new avenues for exploration of JAK-STAT inhibition for promotion of hair growth and highlight the role of this pathway in regulating the activation of hair follicle stem cells," the authors write.

The study appears in the online journal Science Advances.

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