New hopes from an Osteoporosis Drug: New Ways for WAY-316606

WAY-316606 Offers Promise

Male balding is common. By the age of 50, nearly one-half of all men have some degree of male balding. The most effective non-surgical treatments today focus on altering levels of DHT or dihydrotestosterone. However, potential side effects of these medications, which include finasteride and dutasteride have spurred the world of hair research to search for new avenues of treatments. Indeed, other pathways inside cells (other than DHT) seem to be relevant to hair loss. 

A new study from Professor Ralf Paus's lab in Manchester introduces us all to the potential of a drug originally designed to treat osteoporosis to help individuals with hair loss. The results are published in the May 8 edition of PLOS BIOLOGY

 In the first part of the study, the researchers re-examined the molecular mechanisms of an old immunosuppressive drug, Cyclosporine A (CsA) which is known to promote hair growth.  CsA has been in use since the 1980s and is widely used to treat autoimmune diseases as well as to prevent organ transplant rejection. One of the interesting side effects of CsA is that it can trigger hair growth in patients using the drug - often in unwanted areas. 


Cyclosporine inhibits SFRP1

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. Interestingly, this inhibitory mechanism is completely unrelated to CsA's immunosuppressive activities, and in turn make SFRP1 a new and very promising drug target for anti-hair loss strategies.


WAY-316606 also inhibits SFRP1

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. Further work is needed to understand whether topical or oral compounds of WAY-316606 (or similar compounds) could actually work to help patents with hair problems in the clinical rather than laboratory setting. 



Hawkshaw N et al. Identifying novel strategies for treating human hair loss disorders: Cyclosporine A suppresses the Wnt inhibitor, SFRP1, in the dermal papilla of human scalp hair follicles. PLOS Biology 2018. ARTICLE.

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

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