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New therapy for hair loss – British Journal of Dermatology

Injections using a person’s own blood could hold the key to treatment of a common form of hair loss, according to research published in the British Journal of Dermatology today.

The researchers, based at the International Hair Research Foundation and University of Brescia in Italy and the Hebrew University Medical Center in Israel, examined the role of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) in the treatment of alopecia areata, a common disorder causing hair loss.

PRP was compared to a placebo and to an existing steroid treatment for alopecia called triamcinolone acetonide (TrA).

45 patients received injections of either PRP, TrA or a placebo directly to bald patches on just one half of their head. Patches on the other side were injected with distilled water, to act as a control. A total of three treatments were given to each patient, once a month. Hair growth was assessed by measuring the area where new hairs grew on the bald scalp. Additionally, the researchers looked for specific defective hairs which are characteristic features of alopecia areata. Since alopecia patches are often accompanied by burning or itching, these symptoms were also examined.

Use of TrA and PRP led to a significant hair regrowth in bald patches compared to placebo, as assessed by three different independent dermatologists.

The findings could also hold hope for sufferers of alopecia resulting from chemotherapy. Researcher Dr Fabio Rinaldi said: “PRP has been shown to be a potent anti-inflammatory agent, and therefore could potentially have positive therapeutic effects on chemotherapy-induced alopecia.

“Our aim was to compare PRP to the most common therapy for alopecia areata, and indeed we could show that in several parameters, PRP was better than triamcinolone acetonide in treating alopecia areata.”

Alopecia areata is a common cause of hair loss that usually causes small, coin-sized, round patches of baldness on the scalp, although hair elsewhere such as the beard, eyebrows, eyelashes, body and limbs can be affected. It affects about two per cent of the population. It is not possible to predict how much hair will be lost. It happens when the hair is rejected by the affected person’s immune system, which does not recognise the hair roots (follicles) as the body’s own, but regards them as "foreign" (autoimmunity). Regrowth of hair in typical alopecia areata is usual over a period of months or sometimes years, but cannot be guaranteed. There is no known cure.

Nina Goad of the British Association of Dermatologists said: “Alopecia is known to lead to overwhelming effects on the patient's quality of life and self esteem. This could offer hope to thousands of patients who struggle with their hair loss.”

Platelet rich plasma (PRP) is made using the person’s own blood, by separating the blood’s plasma from the rest of the blood and adding a high concentration of platelets (in this case 3.5 times higher than normal blood).

Ends

Notes to editors:

1. For more information and interview requests, please contact: Nina Goad or Deborah Mason, British Association of Dermatologists, Phone: 0207 391 6355, Email: comms@bad.org.uk, Website: www.bad.org.uk

2. If using this information, please ensure you mention that the study is being released in the British Journal of Dermatology, the official publication of the British Association of Dermatologists.

3. Study details: British Journal of Dermatology: A randomized, double-blind, placebo and active-controlled, half-head study to evaluate the effects of platelet rich plasma on alopecia areata
A. Trink1, E. Sorbellini1, P. Bezzola1, L. Rodella2, R. Rezzani2, Y. Ramot3 F. Rinaldi1
1International Hair Research Foundation (IHRF), Milan, Italy
2University of Brescia, Brescia, Italy
3Department of Dermatology, Hadassah – Hebrew University Medical Center, Jerusalem, Israel
DOI: 10.1111/bjd.12397
Articles in the BJD can be viewed online: www.brjdermatol.org
The British Association of Dermatologists is the central association of practising UK dermatologists. Our aim is to continually improve the treatment and understanding of skin disease. For further information about the charity, visit www.bad.org.uk

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