American Hair Research Summit, Orlando, May 14-16th
The American Hair Research Society organizes every other year a meeting devoted to the latest hair research done mostly in the United States. As of this year, the society changed its name from North American Hair Research Society to American Hair Research Society that attracted many doctors from Central and South America especially Brazil to participate. It brought together the leaders in this field of research who presented their latest studies.
The meeting had eight sessions and covered all types of alopecias-from androgenetic to alopecia areata to cicatricial alopecias. Here is some news from lectures that were presented.
Probably the most exciting and promising result was in the new medicine Breezula –a novel, topical, anti-androgen that is in phase II of development. In this 3-arm study of 95 patients, Breezula showed higher hair growth (39%) than Minoxidil (36%). Furthermore, this medication has a favorable safety profile with no reported side effects. It can also be used in premenopausal women, unlike finasteride. Another interesting lecture was on the Kerastem study results presented by Dr. Gorana Kuka Epstein presented. In early androgenic alopecia (Norwood III), a 29% increase in growth of terminal hair was noted, definitely confirming the new era of treating hair loss with regenerative medicine.
The panel on Growth Factors therapy was named “Hope or Hype” as many answers on this therapy remain unanswered such as: how to concentrate Growth Factors, what is the protocol of injection, what should be the frequency of treatments, etc. Despite this, interest in this therapy is still growing and doctors who perform it view it as very effective.
If there was one take home message from this session, it is to start viewing cicatricial alopecias as systematic conditions. Features of Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia (FFA) include facial papules, regression of frontal veins, facial papules, and eyebrow and body hair loss. Oral isotretionoid was routinely used to treat facial papules, with somewhat positive effects on hair loss. A common recommendation is that tt is safe to do a hair transplant procedure in patients with cicatricial alopecia after two years of stable hair loss while maintaining the patient on proper therapy.
The chairman of this session was Angela Christiano, PhD whose lab at Columbia University is fully devoted to alopecia areata research. After a very successful trial on alopecia areata, Christiano’s focus is to explore further the role of JAK inhibitors (Ruxolitinib and Tofactinib) in treating androgenic alopecia. JAK inhibitors were originally used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, and in patients who also had alopecia totalis, hair growth was a side effect of the medication. That led her to explore more conditions associated with alopecia areata. and to date this includes lupus, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, atopic dermatitis, and psoriasis.
Currently on the market, there are four types of laser devices for androgentic alopecia: a helmet, a cap, a band, and a comb. One study showed in a sheep model that hair actually is a barrier for laser luminosity, therefore potentially making it less effective. However, there are no studies in humans that would confirm this finding. Ablative lasers such as 1064nm Nd:YAG, 1550 nm erbium glass, or 600nm ablative fractional CO2, still have a role in treating scarring alopecias. Fractional laser treatments create microthermal injury zones that stimulate the healing process and can lead to increased blood flow, the delivery of cytokines and growth factors, as well as stimulation of the dermal papilla, accelerating the hair cycle from telogen to anagen, and stimulation of the transformation of vellus hairs to terminal hair. One particularly important lecture was on the prevention of chemotherapy-induced alopecia. Two devices, the Dignicap and the Paxman, have demonstrated over 60% maintenance of hair throughout the therapy.
Several lectures were on the correlation of allergies and hair loss, and the importance of patch testing. Also demonstrated was increasing interest in the role of nutraceuticals to help treat hair loss.
The meeting was well attended, and displayed the wide range of research that happening in hair loss field.