Could Bimatoprost be the next FDA-Approved Medication for Hair Loss?

Bimatoprost, the main active ingredient of Allergan, a medication used to reduce intraocular pressure and thus control glaucoma, has been recently approved by the FDA for lengthening eyelashes. This new cosmetic formulation of bimatoprost is sold as Latisse.

It is not uncommon that a drug’s unexpected side effects are utilised to treat other conditions, for which it was not developed. Both FDA-approved medications for treating hair loss were originally designed to treat other health conditions. Minoxidil was initially used to treat high blood pressure, long before its hair growth-promoting properties were discovered. The same applies to the second FDA-approved, hair loss medication, finasteride. It was originally used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), until its use in treating hair loss came to be known. And most recently, dutasteride, another anti-androgen employed in the treatment of BPH, was subjected to clinical examination as a novel hair loss treatment, the final details of which are expected to be released soon. Similarly, can bimatoprost, originally a glaucoma medicine, yet able to lengthen, thicken and darken eyelashes, have the same positive effect on the fine vellus hair left in the balding area of the scalp?

Bimatoprost is a compound derived from fatty acids designed to bind to prostaglandin (PG) receptors. PG receptors are present in hair, particularly in the dermal papilla and outer root sheath of the hair follicle. Although the precise way bimatoprost works is not known, it is believed to affect the growth of hair follicles by increasing the ratio of hairs in the growth phase of the hair cycle and prolonging this phase. Therefore, it can be assumed that bimatoprost could be beneficial in turning the fine, colourless vellus hair in the bald area of the scalp into regular, pigmented terminal hair.

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