According to a new study published in the journal, Science Translational Medicine, the root cause for the male pattern baldness is the presence of abnormal amounts of protein, prostaglandin D2, in the scalp. Prostaglandin D2 and its derivatives are known to inhibit the growth of hair. Male pattern baldness, characterized by the shrinking of hair follicles and the development of short hair with short life, affects about 80% men younger than 70-years-old. The new study that has zeroed in on the cause will lead to a more effective and targeted treatment for this kind of baldness.
George Cotsarelis, MD, chair and professor of dermatology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, says that they have identified the factor by studying men who were balding and found an abundance of proteins, unlike many other studies where they have discovered the treatment plan by chance. “For example, one of the most commonly used minoxidil was originally developed for the treatment of blood pressure”, adds Cotsarelis.
“As per the results of this study, drugs that inhibit the action of protein prostaglandin D2 will help to delay the development of male pattern baldness and should work in all men who are affected by this disorder," says Cotsarelis. According to him, research is already on to develop a drug that belongs to this category.
Neil Sadick, MD, a New York City dermatologist and clinical professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College, feels that the study is really interesting and would help to look at new targets for treatment of baldness. As of now, the only treatments available for baldness are minoxidil and propecia, a prescription drug originally developed to treat enlarged prostate gland. Hair transplant is another option to improve the condition. Low energy laser treatment is also used to stimulate hair growth.
“Thus, new treatments are required as the existing ones are not very effective," says Sadick. He feels that if the new drug is acting on a different pathway that would be more effective. According to Jeffrey Epstein, MD, director of the Foundation for Hair Restoration in Miami and New York City, such research will have a lot of credibility and the study has found something very specific that blocks the growth of hair. Any treatment that can prevent the male pattern baldness is very exciting according to him. New treatment based on the findings will be a few years away.