Several days ago I read a comment to my prior blog post that an 81-year old Italian doctor by the name of Dr. Giovanni Brotzu was planning to release a much anticipated prostaglandin E1 (PGE1) based topical product in Italy by the middle of this year. Later on I found out that it was a PGE1 precursor (Dihomo-Gamma-Linolenic Acid — DGLA) based product (keep reading this post for more on that). Initially, I was highly skeptical about this product and borderline dismissive. However, further comments as well as hair loss forum threads about this product made me spend more time on the subject and finally write a post on it.
There have been hundreds of scam products for sale in the hair loss industry over the past decade, and barely a handful of somewhat effective products exist out there. How likely was an 81 year old man to release anything of significance out of the blue? Moreover, by such an old age when one has seen medical problems and misfortune strike numerous family members and friends, how is one able to focus on something as superficial as hair loss? At such an age, very few men or women are even driven to make money. Or am I stereotyping too much here?
It was also a bit unexpected to read about a PGE1 based product, when the hair loss world has largely been focusing on PGE2 (increasing it) and PGD2 (decreasing it) over the past several years. It should be noted that PGE1 and PGE2 do seem to have some overlap/commonalities as well as some distinct functions.
However, after I did some research, several things made me change my mind and write this post:
- Dr. Brotzu has a patent on the technology that was approved in late 2013 (note that his famous now deceased father is also listed on that patent). Another of Dr. Brotzu’s patents was approved in early 2013. Yet another one was approved more recently in 2015, and this one outlines the use of dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA).
- The patents are filed under the auspices of Fidia Farmaceutici S.P.A., a reputable pharmacy based in Italy.
- Dr. Brotzu also has a number of other patents to his name, related to his work as a vascular surgeon. In fact his experience in circulatory disorders and diabetes were initially what made him discover the benefits of treating hair loss with PGE1. Diabetics and people with circulatory disorders tend to see a loss of leg hair.
- The good doctor has given some intelligent interviews that sound sincere and accurate based on my cursory glance. See here, here, and here. Italian to English translation needed for all those interviews.
- The product will also include equol, which supposedly blocks the synthesis of dihydrotestosterone from testosterone. The patent states “a plant estrogen selected from equol, preferably S-equol, genistein, daidzein, glycitein.“
Here is the doctor’s important explanation of the necessity of using DGLA, per one of the interviews (note that liposomal delivery is required for skin penetration):
“We’re investigating the use of the precursor of PGE1…The first component of the lotion containing cationic liposomes carrying PGE1 was considered a drug. Therefore it would require a long and costly trial. Various companies surveyed thought that the trial would be too expensive and did not want to go to the various stages of product testing. We checked if the biochemical precursor of PGE1, the dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA) had the same effect. The DGLA transported into the skin by cationic liposomes had the same capacity, with the advantage that the lotion ceased to be a drug that required complex experiments and permissions.”
I now have a good feeling about this product insofar as it could be something at least as good as Minoxidil. Dr. Brotzu claims that this product will likely stop further hair loss and even reverse at least the past five years of hair loss (“Consider also that our knowledge of this product allows us to say that you can recover at least 5 years of hair loss“). This would make it better than Minoxidil and closer in efficacy to Dutasteride, with far fewer side effects in all likelihood. A topical solution with actual PGE1 rather than its precursor would likely be even better, but unfortunately such a product is not being tested or manufactured due to the aforementioned problems per the doctor’s quote.
Dr. Brotzu has tested his product on a small sample size of humans with success, but there do not seem to be any before and after pictures available online as yet.
Update: Here are some photos per one of the commentators. Not impressive, and a bit confusing.
Besides the earlier mentioned three patents, for more information, see: