Hair Loss

PGD2 Protein Identified as Culprit for Androgenic Alopecia: Study

Scientists have identified a protein which probably is the root cause for baldness in men. This discovery could lead to the development of a drug that may offer an effective remedy for hair loss in men.

Researchers at Science Translational Medicine have identified an abnormal level of a protein called prostaglandin D2 (PGD2) on the bald spots of men. The study looked at the genes in scalp samples from five men and compared them to the haired parts from same individuals. It revealed higher expressions of the gene that produces PGD2 in the bald samples, compared to the spots with hair. The research led to the conclusion that PGD2 was three times higher in the bald spots than where hair was growing. The scientists then validated the results through tests on mice and concluded that excessive PGD2 decreased follicle density.

The study was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and other medical groups.

Meanwhile Merck & Co. (MRK) and Actelion Ltd. (ATLN) -- two leading pharmaceutical companies – said they are in the final stages of testing certain drugs that could probably pave the way to a new treatment for androgenic alopecia. Merck’s experimental treatment for facial flushing and Actelion’s allergy compound, both in late- stage studies, block PGD2 proteins. This protein inhibitor could well serve as a treatment for baldness.

Currently the only treatments available for baldness are Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)’s Rogaine and Merck’s Propecia. However, they bring only partial results and are often criticized for their side effects.

Merck, a Whitehouse Station, New Jersey-based pharmaceutical company, is testing laropiprant as a flushing inhibitor to be administered with niacin. Actelion, the Switzerland-based company, has developed Allschwil, a setipiprant drug, which is being tested for allergic inflammation of nasal pathways. Both drugs are in the final phase of testing for regulatory approval. However, Merck is not studying the anti-flushing drug in hair loss.

According to a spokesperson from the company, Merck hasn’t seen any signals that the drug could prevent baldness. Actelion also stated they are not testing setipiprant as a baldness treatment.

However, the possibility of these companies looking to develop an anti-baldness drug that inhibits PGD2 growth cannot be ruled out.

HairFear






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