Tag Archives: Prostaglandin D2

Predictions for Hair Loss Products in 2013

Well, another year has come and gone and we STILL don’t have a magic cure for hair loss. These companies keep promising and promising… yet nothing seems to come of their promises. Nevertheless, as someone who has been following stem cell technologies for hair loss since 2008, I can say that there have been breakthroughs and a lot is happening behind the scenes. Here are four hair loss product trends to watch for in 2013:

1. Anti-D2 Products. Earlier in 2012, Dr. George Cotsarelis of the University of Pennsylvania announced the discovery of an enzyme, called prostaglandin D2 (PGD2), that tells hair follicles to stop growing hair. His company, Follica, announced that it was working on a new anti-D2 product that could be a major breakthrough in hair loss. (Advantage: There are already drugs on the market for D2 that are used in asthma.)

2. Bimatoprost. Allergan is currently in clinical studies of the drug bimatoprost (Latisse) which appears to stimulate new hair growth. Results should be reported next year. The best guess is that it will turn out to be an effective treatment for hair loss, particularly for women, but probably along the lines of minoxidil — which helps some people but is not really a “cure.”

3. Histogen. A lot of people are anxiously waiting for Histogen’s Hair Stimulating Complex to finally be released… but it’s still a year or two away at best. Histogen’s product is a proprietary blend of growth factors that are surgically injected into the scalp to stimulate new hair growth.

4. Aderans. Aderans is attempting to develop a true hair cloning technology: Its Ji Gami process removes hair follicle cells from a patient’s neck… cultivates and multiplies new follicle cells in a laboratory… and then attempts to “re-seed” a bald head like a new lawn. The company is now in Phase II clinical trials all across North America. Aderans has said it should release its product in 2014 but we should begin to hear a lot more about it next year.

If I had to guess, I would say that hair cloning will turn out to be the treatment of choice going forward. It will not be a silver bullet but will be more like hair transplant surgery than a lotion. The difference is that, with hair cloning, doctors may yield a more cosmetic pleasing result than what is now possible with limited amounts of donor hair.

So, the question remains: What do hair loss sufferers do until hair cloning arrives? We’ve always said you should try a “kitchen sink” approach. You should visit a medical doctor who specializes in treating hair loss. Ask his or her advice on finasteride and minoxidil. Try some of the anti-DHT shampoos and conditioners on the market, like DS Laboratories Revita and Revita.COR. Try cold laser treatments (certified by the FDA as effective for stimulating hair regrowth). If you have extra cash and are willing to try an experimental treatment, you could try growth factor serums such as RegenRXx or Oxford Biolabs TRX2 (both of which we offer in our products section). You could also find a doctor willing to try Bimatoprost as an off-label treatment, although I would rather wait under the Allergan clinical studies are completed. I honestly believe that you should try to slow down the hair loss as much as possible… because some sort of viable hair cloning treatment may be just around the corner.

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Will New Prostaglandin Creams Be New Hair Loss Products

One of the leading pioneers in researching a stem cell treatment for hair loss, Dr. George Cotsarelis at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine, just let slip that a new approach to growing new hair could be in the works: A topical cream designed to counteract the effects of a hormone-like substance, known as Prostaglandin D2, that may play a key role in baldness.

In the March 21 issue of Science Translational Medicine, Dr. Cotsarelis reported that his team discovered that Prostaglandin D2 is present in much higher levels in the bald areas of men’s scalp but not present in the hairier areas, such as on the side of the head. Dr. Cotsarelis’s team previously discovered that stem cells in hair follicles are not “dead,” as previously thought, but only dormant… and that something is preventing them from turning into the “progenitor cells” that actually produce hair.

In the past, medical researchers theorized that baldness is due to a genetic hypersensitivity to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This potent sex hormone is a derivative of testosterone, made by the body with the help of an enzyme, 5-alpha-reductase. In addition to playing a major role in prostate enlargement, DHT also, in some men and women, triggers a miniaturization of the hair follicles in certain areas, causing a gradual thinning of the hair until the follicle ceases to produce any hair at all. One method of treating this is topical creams that remove excess DHT from the scalp. Another is through the prescription drug finasteride (Propecia), originally used to treat enlarged prostates. This drug is known as a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor because it “inhibits” the action of the enzyme that produces DHT, thus reducing the amount of DHT in someone’s system… and that, in turn, can slow down and even reverse hair loss. Finasteride is effective about 50% of the time, but it comes with some risks: Recent studies warn that it may cause impotence, decreased sex drive and depression.

Now, Dr. Cotsaerlis’s team has thrown another complicating factor into the mix: Prostaglandin D2. The question they were confronting was: What causes the stem cells in hair follicles to become dormant? Is it the lack of something (growth stimuli) or the presence of something (an inhibitor)?

The team analyzed scalp tissue from men undergoing hair transplant surgeries. They discovered no fewer than 81 different genes with higher activity in the balding areas of the scalp compared to the hairier areas, and one of these genes produced Prostaglandin D2. The researchers concluded, therefore, that it was the presence of something, Prostaglandin D2, that was holding back hair growth. (To further complicate matters, however — nothing in science is ever simple — they discovered another prostaglandin, F2alpha, that appears to stimulate the growth of eyelashes.) The researchers tested their hypothesis in the lab with human hair follicles and on bald mice and, sure enough, Prostaglandin D2 definitely caused baldness when they applied it to skin.

Digging deeper, the researchers found that Prostaglandin D2 works on stem cells in combination with another protein, GPR44, which triggers a “biochemical chain reaction” when it encounters Prostaglandin D2. It might be possible, therefore, to develop a drug or cream that eliminates this other protein, GPR44, which renders Prostaglandin D harmless to stem cells in hair follicles.

Further proof that the scientists may be on the right track can be seen by the fact that Minoxidil — along with finasteride one of two drugs approved by the FDA for hair growth — activates an enzyme that produces… yes, you guessed it… prostaglandins!

So, where does all this leave us? What happened to DHT? The scientists’ best guess now is that hair growth is caused by a delicate balance of prostagladins. Prostaglandins are chemical messengers made from fatty acids, similar to hormones, present in every cell in the body. There are at least 16 different major types. It may well turn out that the old medical understanding of what causes baldness — a hypersensitivity to DHT — was correct but just too simplistic. In other words, it may be that what causes hair loss is an imbalance of prostaglandins — too much of one, not enough of another — and that all we have to do is restore that balance and voila! instance hair growth!

The creation in 1997 of a prostaglandin analog, latanoprost, and the subsequent discovery that it stimulates new hair growth in eyelashes, lends some credence to this theory.

Nevertheless, science proceeds at a snail’s pace and everyone associated with this research urges caution. As Yogi Berra put it, “it’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

Dr. Cotsarelis told the BBC recently that the next step in his research is to search for compounds that have an effect on the “receptor” in the stem cells — presumably GPR44 — and then to figure out if blocking this receptor would merely prevent hair loss or could actually reverse it. However, he added that there are “several” drugs already in existence that target this “pathway” and that clinical trials are already underway.

Maddening, isn’t it? They seem to be inching closer and closer to understanding the biochemical basis for hair loss yet remain very far from having a practical, real-world treatment.

Yet we are much closer than we were even just a few years ago. You know what they say: growing old beats the alternative… a learning a little beats learning nothing.

Stay tuned!

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