Bimatoprost Gives New Hope to Hair Loss Patients

The two existing FDA approved hair loss drugs - minoxidil (Rogaine) and finasteride (Propecia) have their limitations when it comes to preserving and stimulating hair growth in the frontal scalp where hair is needed most. Other medications that are being prescribed off-label for treating hair loss such as dutasteride (Avodart, prescribed to men) and spironolactone (Aldactone, prescribed to women), though being thought to be in certain situations more effective than the aforementioned drugs specifically approved for treating hair loss, are known to cause side effects that discourage many hair loss sufferers from considering them as an alternative treatment. The fact is that at the moment there is no new hair loss drug in the phase III of clinical testing that could replace the aforementioned treatments in the foreseeable future. However, as it happens quite often secondary effects of certain medications can be utilized to treat conditions they have not been originally designed for. One such medication is bimatoprost.

Bimatoprost (Lumigan) is a medications used in eye drops to treat glaucoma. It was later found to stimulate the growth of eyelashes and, after series of rigorous clinical testing, it recently received an FDA approval for its new use, i.e. thickening and extending eyelashes under the trade name Latisse. This spurred new interest in this drug amongst hair scientists given its potential ability to stimulate the growth of other types of hair, mainly the hair on the scalp. In the initial testing bimatoprost managed to regrow hair in bald spots on mice. Bimatoprost currently happens to be in the phase II clinical testing stage for treating hair loss and preliminary data look very promising. They showed that hair follicles treated with bimatprost were able to grow by one third just within nine days of treatment compared with untreated sample. This research confirmed that scalp follicles contain the same receptors sensitive to the effects of bimatoprost as eyelashes. The test was conducted in vitro so the next task is to find an efficient delivery mechanism so that this drug can reach the follicles in the scalp in order to effect reasonable hair growth stimulation at minimal cost. It is very important since bimatoprost is a relatively expensive drug. At the moment, clinical trial results involving 220 balding men and 172 women are being examined and reports should be available shortly. These study results will only be compared against placebo but, if successful, another step will be to compare the effectiveness of bimatoprost with topical minoxidil treatment.

At the moment bimatoprost appears to be the most promising drug development in the area of hair loss research. It is already being used to treat two other health conditions and is known to be well tolerable, hence, the only question mark is its effectiveness and the cost of treatment. If efficient delivery mechanism was found to make it effective at a reasonable cost of the treatment it could be approved for treating hair loss in a relatively short period of time.