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Home > Articles > Could Glaucoma Treatment Cure Hair Loss?

Could Glaucoma Treatment Cure Hair Loss?

by Dean Anderson

While many hair loss remedies such as laser comb therapy develop from long-term study of the scalp alone, one promising new medication has sprung from treatment of an unlikely part of the body: the eye. Recent tests on both mice and humans have shown that the glaucoma medication “Bimatoprost” may be capable of helping men and women regrow hair lost to androgenetic alopecia, or “pattern baldness.” Though some in the hair loss community are skeptical, others believe that the recent string of successful Bimatoprost trials in the UK could mean the cure to balding is only a few years away.

Bimatoprost was first developed to relieve fluid build-up in the eye which contributes to glaucoma and ocular hypertension. The drug sold under the name “Lumigan” and received FDA approval in December of 2008. While early adopters were satisfied with the efficacy of the drug, they noted a curious yet benign side effect: users of Bimatoprost reported that their eyelashes were lengthening.

After this discovery Bimatoprost was repackaged under the trade name “Latisse” and marketed toward women looking to volumize their lashes without mascara. Though scientists believed they understood the medication’s effect at the time, Bimatoprost wasn’t tested on alopecia sufferers because eyelash follicles are quite different from those on the scalp, particularly in the fact that they aren’t sensitive to the hormones responsible for pattern baldness. Now, over four years after initial launch, Bimatoprost is receiving positive results as a topical scalp treatment for hair loss, potentially the drug’s most lucrative application yet.

Surprisingly, this isn’t the only case of a hair loss treatment being uncovered as a side effect to a seemingly unrelated treatment. “Minoxidil,” the active ingredient in hair loss serum Rogaine, was originally billed as medication for high blood pressure before its hair follicle-boosting powers were discovered. Another drug called “Finasteride” got its start as a treatment for enlarged prostate glands before it adopted the name “Propecia” and became the only FDA-approved oral hair loss medication known to regrow hair in balding men.

Scientists consulting for Allergan, the company behind Lumigen and Latisse, have conducted extensive testing the of drug’s hair-recuperating abilities on mice. Initial successes included follicles treated with Bimatoprost producing a third more hair than untreated control groups. “We wanted to see whether it would have the same effect on scalp hair [as it did on eyelashes], as the two types of follicle are very different,” Valerie Randall, lead scientist of the Bimatoprost study, relayed to Daily Mail reporters. “Our findings show that bimatoprost does stimulate growth in human scalp hair follicles and therefore could offer a new approach for treating hair loss disorders.”

The positive results from the Allergan-funded study, published in The FASEB Journal, has paved the way for more advanced clinical trials currently taking place in the United States and Germany. Instead of mice, however, the new study will involve 220 men and 172 women with pattern baldness. The quick jump to human testing is largely due to the fact that Bimatoprost has proven safe for people in its previous incarnations. The only known side effect of Bimatoprost is a darkening of the eye and eyelid skin which may be reversible. Whether or not such skin darkening will extend to scalp application and how effective the drug will be at reversing existing bald patches will be revealed upon the study’s conclusion before the end of 2012.

Interested in other revolutionary hair loss treatments? Contact HLS today and we’ll schedule you a comprehensive consultation with a licensed hair loss specialist in a city near you!

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