Androgenic Alopecia Headed Toward Cure

Androgenic alopecia or male-pattern baldness is a common form of hair loss observed in both men and women. In men, hair loss starts in a well-defined pattern above both the temples. Gradually, the hairline recedes to form a distinctive ‘M’-shaped pattern. Hair also thins from the top of the head, resulting in partial or complete baldness. The hair loss pattern in women differs from that in men, as the hairline doesn’t recede in females, but the hair becomes thinner all over the scalp. Androgenic alopecia in women rarely leads to complete baldness.

This form of hair loss is associated with androgens, particularly dihydrotestosterone. Androgens are essential for normal male sexual development before birth and during puberty. They are also essential for hair growth and sex drive in both men and women.

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Androgenic Alopecia Therapeutics Pipeline Drivers

One of the drivers for the androgenic alopecia therapeutics pipeline is the increasing mergers & acquisitions among pharmaceutical companies. For example, Kythera Biopharmaceuticals Inc. was acquired by Allergan PLC in June 2015 with the rights to the orally administered Setipiprant, a PDG2r antagonist which prevents hair loss and miniaturization, for $2.1 billion. Another factor driving the pipeline is the active participation by pharmaceutical companies for finding novel targets. For AGA treatment in men, Aclaris Therapeutics Inc. included a pre-clinical topical Janus kinase inhibitor drug candidate, which is now in Phase I clinical trials, in its pipeline.

Current Pipeline Scenario

The androgenic alopecia therapeutics pipeline consisted of more than 15 drugs in 2017. One of the drugs is P-3074 (finasteride), a small molecule derived from a synthetic source, which is under the Phase III drug development process. It is being developed by Almirall S.A. for topical application. It inhibits the type 2 5-alpha reductase isozyme, which, in turn, stops the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone in males with AGA.

Thus, as the pipeline grows, those suffering from the disease can hope to look relatively younger.