Curing Hair Loss by Accident Or Stroke Of Dumb Luck
Minoxidil and finasteride were both discovered to grow hair that occurred as a side effect. Now researchers at UCLA have accidentally discovered a new hair loss compound that regrew hair in bald patches in mice.
When it comes to hair loss treatments, none was originally being tested to cure hair loss. They were all accidental side effects of studies on the ingredient's main usage.
Minoxidil tested for blood pressure regulation had a side effect of hair growth
You may have heard the story about how the hair loss treatment drug minoxidil was originally developed as an oral drug treatment for high blood pressure in the 1980s. But hair growth was an unanticipated side effect, so the original maker, Upjohn Corporation, sought FDA approval as a daily hair regrowth treatment. Researchers also learned that if the medication were to be discontinued, the hair loss would quickly return to the previous rate. Following the FDA approval, a topical solution that contained 2 percent minoxidil was produced under the brand name Rogaine, which was the first topical solution FDA-approved to regrow hair. It has since been manufactured in a 5 percent solution and foam formulas and has become a widely accepted form of hair loss treatment in both men and women.
Finasteride and dutasteride tested to treat an enlarged prostate had the side effect of hair growth
Early studies of the ingredient finasteride, being marketed under the brand name Proscar and used to improve symptoms of an enlarged prostate gland (benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH), also found the ingredient exhibited the side effect hair regrowth in men. Finasteride is in a class of medications called 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors. Finasteride treats BPH by blocking the body's production of the male hormone DHT (dihydrotestosterone), which causes the prostate to enlarge and hair follicles to shrink. Appropriate testing was conducted to get FDA approval for its secondary use as a hair loss treatment -- only for men -- at a lower dosage and marketed under the brand name Propecia.
Another 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor ingredient, dutasteride is an FDA-approved drug marketed under the brand name Avodart, also for the treatment of BPH. But dutasteride is a dual 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor because the drug inhibits both type 1 and type 2 5-alpha reductase (the enzymes associated with the conversion of testosterone into DHT), which causes both enlargement of the prostate and the miniaturization of hair follicles in men.
One study done on 416 men with male pattern baldness found that the 2.5-mg dutasteride dose was superior to the 5-mg finasteride dose in improving scalp hair growth in men. But currently Avodart is used off-label to treat hair loss and has not been FDA-approved for this purpose.
Newest accidental finding: Astressin-B blocks stress-related hormone and is found to regrow hair in mice
Recently, a team led by researchers from UCLA was investigating how stress affects gastrointestinal function and found a chemical compound that induces hair growth by blocking a stress-related hormone associated with hair loss -- entirely by accident. For their experiments, the researchers had been using mice that were genetically altered to overproduce the stress hormone called corticotropin-releasing factor, or CRF. As the injected mice aged, they lost hair and eventually became bald on their backs, making them visually distinct from the unaltered mice.
The Salk Institute researchers had developed a peptide called astressin-B to block the action of CRF. The researchers injected the astressin-B into the bald mice to observe how its CRF-blocking ability affected gastrointestinal tract function. About three months later, the investigators found that the bald mice had regrown hair on their backs. Subsequent studies confirmed the fact.
The short duration of the treatments was specifically interesting, given the daily usage of any other hair loss treatments approved today. Just one shot per day for five consecutive days maintained the hair regrowth effects for up to four months.
The hair loss finding is an offshoot of a study funded by the National Institutes of Health. Both the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have applied for a patent on the use of the astressin-B peptide for hair growth.
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