Exciting Advancements In Hair Care and Hair Loss

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 11,620
    Dr. Ken Washenik, Vice Chair of the Hair Foundation, reviews some of the exciting advancements in hair care and hair loss treatment.

    Kenneth J Wasehnik: Today I am going to discuss some of the new advancements or breakthroughs, exciting things on the horizon to treat hair loss. We have had two very effective medications for Propecia, which is Finasteride and Rogaine, which is Minoxidil. And that's great but unfortunately we've only have those for decades.

    So we are constantly looking for the next wave of new treatments that will give that many more people a chance to slow down, inhibit, stop or even reverse some of their hair loss. So that one of the more exciting areas right now is the ongoing program to look at the possibility that Bimatoprost, which is the active ingredient to drug in Latisse, which is a product that's already on the market for lengthening eyelashes or encouraging eyelash growth. So it's a sensible extension of that logic that perhaps this same drug can help encourage scalp hair growth. It works by keeping hair in the anogen or growth phase, and we know that we go bald, we lose our hair because of a shorting of that anogen cycle.

    So a drug that lengthens anogen, whether it's eyelashes or scalp hair, has a lot of potential for treating scalp hair loss. A really exciting study was published by a group at the University of Pennsylvania; Dr George Cotsarelis showed that there is a substance, called Prostaglandin D2. But this substance is preferentially located in the area that where scalp we're going bald, in the areas we don't go bald, like the back of your head there is much less.

    So that's exciting, because a drug that could inhibit that chemical could slow down or stop your hair loss or maybe even reverse it. Luckily there are a couple of drugs unrelated to hair that are already being investigated for other problems like asthma, allergies.

    So the good news is we would able to take those medications and immediately see whether they can help with hair loss, because of their action on this chemical, which is Prostaglandin D2.

    Cell therapies are really exciting new area. If you pluck a hair follicle, it grows back. So even though it looks like the entire hair was plucked out, obviously those few cells that are left behind at the root of a hair can regenerate the entire follicular structure. So that simple finding has driven the development of a field where people have taken stem cells of the hair follicle, from the root of the hair follicle, grow those in culture, so that you can essentially duplicate them, multiply them, make more of these cells that you started with, and then inject those cells back into the scalp, like hair seeds to regenerate the growth of hair that you're losing or have lost.

    Other things that are being looked at involved these molecular mediators, growth factors, one of them is called WNT, W-N-T, and there been a number of papers and studies where they have looked at an experimental system the ability of WNT to form brand-new hair follicles.

    And then another group has looked at picking WNT that comes off into the liquid that they grow their cells in the lab and injecting that in the skin, and there the WNT is able to stimulate hair growth. So there are number of areas, a new area, that we've seen more and more activity in, are in medical devices.

    In the medical devices that I think we hear most about these days are devices that use a technology that's laser-based, low-level laser therapy. So it just gives off a certain wavelength of light, but the energy is very low so you don't generate heat or any deconstructive energy, and it's been shown in a number of studies now, in both handheld devices where you could use a laser comb and pass that over your scalp and areas where you are losing hair or lost hair, or in hooded devices where the laser is in the structure that you just roll over your head where you are losing hair.

    And these clinical studies have shown that the energy from those lasers can help treat hair loss. I think when you're looking at ways to treat your hair loss whether it's medications, surgery, devices, like low-level laser treatments; what you really want to do is go and get information that's trustworthy.

    So go to your physician, go to a physician, who takes care of hair loss, and is knowledgeable in what exists and what's in development.