Public Release:  A Viagra follow-up? Drug used to treat glaucoma actually grows human hair

New research in the FASEB Journal shows how a commonly prescribed glaucoma drug may be effective in treating male pattern baldness and other forms of alopecia

Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

If you're balding and want your hair to grow back, then here is some good news. A new research report appearing online in The FASEB Journal (www.fasebj.org) shows how the FDA-approved glaucoma drug, bimatoprost, causes human hair to regrow. It's been commercially available as a way to lengthen eyelashes, but these data are the first to show that it can actually grow human hair from the scalp.

"We hope this study will lead to the development of a new therapy for balding which should improve the quality of life for many people with hair loss," said Valerie Randall, a researcher involved in the work from the University of Bradford, Bradford, UK. "Further research should increase our understanding of how hair follicles work and thereby allow new therapeutic approaches for many hair growth disorders."

To make this discovery, Randall and colleagues conducted three sets of experiments. Two involved human cells and the other involved mice. The tests on human cells involved using hair follicles growing in organ culture as well as those take directly from the human scalp. In both of these experiments, the scientists found that bimatoprost led to hair growth. The third set of experiments involved applying bimatoprost to the skin of bald spots on mice. As was the case with human cells, the drug caused hair to regrow.

"This discovery could be the long-awaited follow up to Viagra that middle-aged men have been waiting for," said Gerald Weissmann, MD, editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal. "Given that the drug is already approved for human use and its safety profile is generally understood, this looks like a promising discovery that has been right in front of our eyes the whole time. On to the front of our scalp!"

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Receive monthly highlights from The FASEB Journal by e-mail. Sign up at http://www.faseb.org/fjupdate.aspx. The FASEB Journal (http://www.fasebj.org) is published by the Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). It is among the most cited biology journals worldwide according to the Institute for Scientific Information and has been recognized by the Special Libraries Association as one of the top 100 most influential biomedical journals of the past century. FASEB is composed of 26 societies with more than 100,000 members, making it the largest coalition of biomedical research associations in the United States. Celebrating 100 Years of Advancing the Life Sciences in 2012, FASEB is rededicating its efforts to advance health and well-being by promoting progress and education in biological and biomedical sciences through service to our member societies and collaborative advocacy.

Details: Karzan G. Khidhir, David F. Woodward, Nilofer P. Farjo, Bessam K. Farjo, Elaine S. Tang, Jenny W. Wang, Steven M. Picksley, and Valerie A. Randall. The prostamide-related glaucoma therapy, bimatoprost, offers a novel approach for treating scalp alopecias FASEB J doi:10.1096/fj.12-218156 ; http://www.fasebj.org/content/early/2012/10/25/fj.12-218156.abstract

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