While hair loss treatments are being tweaked and improved all the time, it has actually been twenty years since a drug to treat hair loss has been approved. But all that could be about to change, as no less than three European pharmaceutical firms are currently inching closer to the hair loss product launch we’ve all been waiting for.
Swedish biotech firm Follicum is currently in phase II clinical trials with its contender, which is based on a variant of the protein osteopontin. Follicum scientists came up with the idea whilst researching treatments for arterioscelosis, when they observed that the protein could increase hair growth in mice.
Further investigation showed that osteopontin could actually stimulate dormant hair follicles, and two clinical trials on an injectable form of the drug have shown positive results in humans. Trials are now underway on a topical cream version of the product.
Italian biotech Cassiopea is also going down the topical treatment route. Their product works by blocking the production of DHT – a known contributor to androgenic alopecia (male or female pattern baldness) – to have a preventative effect on hair loss, as well as reversing some existing damage.
Diana Harbort, CEO of Cassiopea explains: “Our drug actually antagonises the negative effect of DHT around the follicle, slowing down the hair loss or stopping it. And those follicles that aren’t completely shut down due to DHT, they start producing hair again.”
Cassiopea’s product, Breezula, will enter phase III clinical trials this year, with phases I and II having proved successful, meaning it could be the first new hair loss drug to hit the market in twenty years.
Another Italian firm, Giuliani has been looking at a particularly novel way of treating hair loss. They’ve been studying drugs for other conditions that cause unwanted hair loss as a side effect, and have managed to identify some completely new ways to stimulate hair follicles.
So far, these compounds have proven effective at growing human hair in organ culture in the lab, so the next step is to find some human volunteers to test them on.
So with three new hair loss drugs in the offing, the future looks bright: could 2020 be the year we stop hair loss in its tracks?