[From the University of Bradford]
The research that has just been announced is about looking at whether a drug which is already used as eye drops for glaucoma which stimulates eyelashes as a side effect of being used to treat glaucoma will also work on scalp hair so that it can be used to stimulate hair growth in people with male patterned baldness, female patterned baldness and possibly other balding condition.
Hair loss is very disturbing for people because we use hair in a form of communication it’s very important to people to have good quality hair. It was designed as I say for an eye condition which increases the eye pressure and as a side effect some people when they’re using it notice that their eyelashes were growing so the first thing that happened was they looked to see if it would stimulate eyelash growth but eyelashes are very different from scalp hair they are different shape, different structure, and they have a lot of strong difference.
We wanted to look to see whether they would also stimulate scalp hair and the advantage of this would be that it has very little toxicity you can put it in your eye without a problem so therefore it should be a very good treatment which would not have side effects In our specialised skin scientist research labs we are able to culture human hair follicles, take them from the human scalp, keep them alive and let them grow hair in our conditions.
So what we did was we did that with normal hair follicles and then we added the drug to the hair follicles in different concentrations, different amounts and we found that it was able to increase the rate at which they grew and the length by which they were able to grow by about 30 per cent in just 9 days in the culture. As a result of the work we have been doing here the company is now carrying out clinical trials both in the USA and Germany. At the moment all we can say is that these phase 2 trials will give some results by about the end of this year. Well learning from researchers as opposed to learning straight from textbooks is very important because one it stimulates students to think but also they get a good concept of the fact that things change and in the biological sciences, biomedical sciences that is particularly important.
When they leave university they will be able to keep up with new developments, they’ll have learnt skills of researching and looking by researching I mean looking at the literature to see what new things are coming up and to analyse what information is important what isn’t so important. Those are the skills that graduates need to have when they move out in to employment because wheat they do when they first graduate may not be what they are going to do 30 or 40 years later. In the meantime, we will have to depend on existing solutions to hair loss, until a more stable and effective cure has been found.