Update: Seems like the Bayer and Hope Medicine partnership I discussed in this post was in relation to the former’s BAY 1158061. The product is a potent monoclonal prolactin (PRL) receptor antibody.
Prolactin and Hair
I have read in the past that very high pituitary hormone prolactin (PRL) levels (hyperprolactinemia) can cause hair loss. However, the research is not totally conclusive as far as I can tell. Moreover, a lot of the existing studies seems to look at alopecia areata, stress related hair loss, or pituitary gland disorders. Rather than the dominant form of hair loss: androgenetic alopecia. Nevertheless, perhaps there is more to this subject matter than I originally thought based on the below development.
Moreover, some detailed studies have supported targeting PRL to regrow hair in androgenetic alopecia sufferers. For example, this one from 2006 concludes that new therapeutic strategies for the management of hormonal hair loss in men and women could make use of recently developed PRL-R antagonists.
Bayer and Hope Medicine Collaboration
A new biopharmaceutical company from China named Hope Medicine (HopeMed) has entered into a partnership with Bayer (Germany). It could have significant positive implications for hair loss sufferers (and also for women with endometriosis).
Hope Medicine will develop and commercialize a human antibody targeting the PRL receptor for the treatment of male and female pattern hair loss. See Bayer’s patent for a prolactin receptor antibody for male and female pattern hair loss.
According to the above news, data published by a Bayer team and others points to a “yet hardly recognized role of prolactin/prolactin-receptors signaling” in male and female pattern hair loss disorders.
Key quote regarding the antibody drug that has already been developed and gone through Phase 1 trials:
“The antibody was effective in stimulating hair growth in aged stump-tailed macaques. It nearly doubled the number of terminal hairs after 6 months. Even in previously fully bald areas, and showed a sustainable impact even after 2 years post treatment. Notably, the stump-tail macaque model is considered one of the rare predictive animal models for male and female pattern hair loss in humans.”
The current research and drug development study is a result of a close collaboration between Bayer scientists and researchers at the Institute of Molecular Medicine (IMM) at Peking University. The main scientist involved at IMM seems to be Dr. Rui-Ping Xiao. More on her in this interview.
More on Hope Medicine’s funding status and other related info.