On the Misrepresentation of Hair Research Findings by the Media
Several week ago, I wrote a article about the unusual practices on the media when reporting new hair research findings. The basic tenant of the article was that most articles that are written in the media have a exaggerated hope and unrealistic bias towards convincing the public that the new research finding bring us fairly close to a cure. Interested readers can read the article here
A new osteoporosis drug as a model of the media's bias
As an example of the misrepresentation of the media, we'll focus on a recent study from Professor Ralf Paus's lab in Manchester. The results were published in the May 8 edition of PLOS BIOLOGY. Paus' group re-examined the molecular mechanisms of an old immunosuppressive drug, Cyclosporine A (CsA) which is known to promote hair growth. Prof Paus' team ultimately uncovered a completely new understanding of how cyclosporine affects hair follicles. The researchers carried out a full gene expression analysis of isolated human scalp hair follicles treated with CsA and found that CsA reduces the expression of SFRP1, a protein that inhibits the development and growth of many tissues, including hair follicles. After some further work, the group found that a drug called WAY-316606 also antagonizes SFRP1. Surprisingly, WAY-316606 was originally developed to treat osteoporosis.
The Misrepresentation of the Media : 15 Examples
Even though WAY-316606 could impact the SFRP1 pathway, it's completely unknown whether the drug could have any benefit on human hair disorders. Yet the media's spin on the findings were that it was fairly close to a 'cure'. Here are some headlines from articles about the preliminary research of WAY-316606 which shows this misrepresented and skewed view:
The media has come down with a serious case of excitement. The only problem is that many of these stories are not accurate, not realistic and manipulate the public away from the truth. Whatever condition it is the media has, it's contagious and spreads quickly - I'm not even sure it's curable.
Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Whistler office at 604.283.1887