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Research links glaucoma drug to growth of human hair

By Simon Pitman , 30-Oct-2012

New research links a glaucoma drug, already used to encourage eyelash growth, to the regrowth of human scalp hair.

Research involving a team of scientists at the University of Bradford, in the UK, is said to clearly show that the FDA-approved glaucoma drug, bimatoprost can cause human hair to growth.

The research, which is published in the peer reviewed FASEB Journal, builds on documented evidence that the drug can encourage lengthening of eyelashes, but this is the first research to underline its application for other types of human hair.

From longer eyelashes to more hair

The drug has been used in commercially produced mascara formulaes since about 2006, but with the research suggesting that the drug could encourage the growth of human scalp hair, the logical next step may be the development of formulae designed specifically for male pattern baldness.

"We hope this study will lead to the development of a new therapy for balding which should improve the quality of life for many people with hair loss," said Valerie Randall, a researcher involved in the work from the University of Bradford.

"Further research should increase our understanding of how hair follicles work and thereby allow new therapeutic approaches for many hair growth disorders."

Tests on mice and human cells show hair regrowth

The team of scientists conducted three sets of experiments, two involving human cell  and one other involving mice, with all showing positive results with respect to hair regrowth when Bimatoprost was used.

The tests on human cells involved hair follicles growing in organ culture, together with the cells taken directly from the human scalp, while the third set involved the application of the druge to the skin of bald spots on mice.

"This discovery could be the long-awaited follow up to Viagra that middle-aged men have been waiting for," said Gerald Weissmann, MD, editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal.

"Given that the drug is already approved for human use and its safety profile is generally understood, this looks like a promising discovery that has been right in front of our eyes the whole time. On to the front of our scalp!"