A lot of press coverage recently about the latest protein (prostaglandin D2 or PGD2) identified that may hopefully bring a cure for male pattern baldness, based on a study published in Science Translational Medicine. We will have to wait out the FDA process and see where this is all going to take us.

The suggestion is that this may be a cure to prevent the balding process, but it does not imply that this can reverse the damage from hair loss in the past. The team of researchers was lead by dermatologist Luis Garza (then of the University of Pennsylvania, now at Johns Hopkins University) and by Penn dermatologist George Cotsarelis. Here are some quotes from articles around the web:

From Bloomberg News

Male-pattern baldness may be caused by a protein in the scalp, according to research that raises the possibility drugs being tested by Merck & Co. (MRK) and Actelion Ltd. (ATLN) for other uses might prevent hair loss. Bald spots had an excessive amount of a protein called prostaglandin D2 or PGD2, according to a study in Science Translational Medicine. Merck’s experimental treatment for facial flushing and Actelion’s allergy compound, both in late- stage studies, block the protein.

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From The Los Angeles Times

The discovery that prostaglandins might be the catalyst that sets baldness in motion, was a surprise to the researchers, who ‘hadn’t thought about prostaglandins in relation to hair loss,’ said Cotsarelis. From there, researchers were able to identify the receptor — the cellular landing dock — for D2, called GPR44. Find a way to block that receptor, or somehow thwart PGD2’s path to it, and, voila! —baldness doesn’t happen. That, say the researchers, will be their next effort — to try topical treatments that block the GPR44 receptor. They hope the same approach might help find treatments that prevent hair thinning in women.

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From MedPage Today

To explore the possible mechanisms, Cotsarelis and colleagues examined scalp tissue from 22 white men ages 40 to 65 who underwent hair transplantation for male pattern baldness. None of the men were taking either of the two approved medications for baldness — minoxidil and finasteride. Through genetic analysis of bald scalp tissue and hair-covered scalp tissue within the same individuals, the researchers discovered that levels of prostaglandin D2 were about three times higher in the bald scalp tissue.

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From HealthDay

Several companies have compounds in development that block the receptor for PGD2. Those compounds are being studied to treat asthma. We think using these compounds topically… could slow down and possibly reverse baldness.

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Tags: hairloss, hair loss, cure, balding, baldness, protein, prostaglandin