Saturday October 19, 2019

A Drug That Can Potentially Cure Hair Loss

The only other option available to patients in such a situation is hair transplantation surgery.

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The drug works by targeting a protein that inhibits the development and growth of many tissues, including hair follicles, said the study published in the journal PLOS Biology.
Hair Transplant Representational Image, Pixabay

There is new hope for bald people to get back hair without going for transplantation as researchers have found that a drug originally developed to treat the bone disease, osteoporosis, stimulates hair growth.

The drug works by targeting a protein that inhibits the development and growth of many tissues, including hair follicles, said the study published in the journal PLOS Biology.

“The fact this new agent, which had never even been considered in a hair loss context, promotes human hair growth is exciting because of its translational potential: it could one day make a real difference to people who suffer from hair loss,” said project leader Nathan Hawkshaw from The University of Manchester in Britain.

The researchers found that the compound WAY-316606, which was originally developed to treat osteoporosis, has a dramatic stimulatory effect on human hair follicles.

The researchers said that the few drugs which are currently available for treatment of male-pattern balding have moderate side effects and often produce disappointing hair regrowth results.

The only other option available to patients in such a situation is hair transplantation surgery.

The researchers, therefore, sought to develop new ways to promote human hair growth.

The approach was to first identify the molecular mechanisms of an old immunosuppressive drug, Cyclosporine A (CsA).

There is new hope for bald people to get back hair without going for transplantation as researchers have found that a drug originally developed to treat the bone disease, osteoporosis, stimulates hair growth.
Drug to treat hairloss, Pixabay

Cyclosporine A has been commonly used since the 1980s as a crucial drug that suppresses transplant rejection and autoimmune diseases.

However, it often has severe side-effects, the least serious — but most interesting — of which is that it enhances cosmetically unwanted hair growth.

The team carried out a full gene expression analysis of isolated human scalp hair follicles treated with CsA.

This revealed that CsA reduces the expression of SFRP1, a protein that inhibits the development and growth of many tissues, including hair follicles.

The inhibitory mechanism is completely unrelated to CsA’s immunosuppressive activities, making SFRP1 a new and highly promising therapeutic target for anti-hair loss strategies.

The researchers then found that the compound WAY-316606, which was originally developed to treat osteoporosis, targets the same mechanism as CsA by specifically antagonising SFRP1.

When they treated hair follicles with WAY-316606, the unrelated agent also effectively enhanced human hair growth like CsA.

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This led the researchers to conclude that external application of the osteoporosis compound or similar compounds to balding human scalp may promote hair growth to the same magnitude as CsA or even better, but without its side effects.

“We were able to conduct our experiments with scalp hair follicles that had generously been donated by over 40 patients and were then tested in organ cultures,” Hawkshaw said.

“This makes our research clinically very relevant, as many hair research studies only use cell culture,” he said, adding that a clinical trial is required next to tell us whether this drug or similar compounds are both effective and safe in hair loss patients. (IANS)

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Nancy Pelosi Unveils Ambitious Plan to Lower Drug Prices for Seniors on Medicare

Pharmaceutical companies that refuse to negotiate could face steep penalties

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Nancy Pelosi, Plan, Drug
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., arrives for a gathering of the House Democratic Caucus at the Capitol in Washington, Sept. 10, 2019. VOA

Putting her stamp on the health care issue that worries consumers the most, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday unveiled an ambitious plan to lower drug prices for seniors on Medicare and younger people with private insurance.

Pelosi, D-Calif., would empower Medicare to negotiate prices for the 250 costliest drugs, including insulin. Pharmaceutical companies that refuse to negotiate could face steep penalties. Additionally, drugmakers that hike prices beyond inflation would have to pay rebates to Medicare.

The plan would limit copays for seniors covered by Medicare’s “Part D” prescription drug program to $2,000. And Medicare-negotiated prices would be available to other buyers, such as employer health plans.

The plan is Pelosi’s marker in what’s shaping up as a high-stakes negotiation to determine if a drug pricing compromise can pass Congress this year or if Democrats and Republicans will take their differences into the 2020 elections.

Nancy Pelosi, Plan, Drug
Putting her stamp on the health care issue that worries consumers the most, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday unveiled an ambitious plan to lower drug prices. Pixabay

The sweeping legislation leans left politically and appears to be tailor-made for Pelosi’s Democratic majority in the House. But in a signal that Pelosi wants a deal, it also incorporates ideas from the Trump administration and from Republican and Democratic senators.

A solid majority of Americans, regardless of partisan affiliation, says lowering prescription drug costs should be a top priority for Congress this year. Overall, 70 percent deemed that a top priority in a poll earlier this month from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

President Donald Trump appears eager to sign prescription drug legislation and lower costs, but most Republicans oppose the Medicare negotiations that are the centerpiece of Pelosi’s plan. The 2003 law that created Medicare’s prescription drug benefit barred the program from negotiating prices, a restriction Democrats have long opposed.

As a candidate, Trump backed Medicare negotiations. But after Trump was elected president, he seemed to revert to the traditional Republican position that price negotiations are best left to private players like insurance companies.

With tens of billions of dollars in profits at stake, drugmakers are determined to block any major changes to payment policies. But the industry’s powerful lobbying group, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, has been taking fire from all sides, from liberal Democrats to pro-business Republicans. Trump once accused drug companies of “getting away with murder.”

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Pelosi’s proposal would:

► Authorize Medicare to negotiate prices for the drugs with the greatest total cost to the program and the U.S. health care system. That includes pharmacy drugs covered through the popular “Part D” prescription benefit, along with “Part B” medications dispensed in doctors’ offices, a category that covers many cancer drugs. The maximum price would be determined using a blend of international prices, an idea similar to a more limited proposal from the Trump administration. Insulin prices would be subject to negotiations. Drug companies that balk at making a deal would face penalties that start at 65% of sales for the drug at issue and would escalate if they hold out.

► Require drugmakers to pay rebates to Medicare if they hike their prices beyond the increase in inflation. That idea resembles a bipartisan plan from Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Ron Wyden, D-Ore. The senators’ proposal has already cleared a key committee, with Trump’s support. But many Senate Republicans oppose inflation rebates, and it’s unclear what Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., plans to do next.

► Limit what seniors pay out of pocket for their medications to $2,000 a year. Currently, Medicare’s pharmacy benefit has no cap on copays, and the advent of drugs costing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year has left some seniors saddled with bills that rival a mortgage payment. An out-of-pocket limit also is part of the Grassley-Wyden bill, and the idea also is backed by the Trump administration.

Nancy Pelosi, Plan, Drug
Pelosi, D-Calif., would empower Medicare to negotiate prices for the 250 costliest drugs, including insulin. Pixabay

Pelosi’s office says her plan is to have the legislation introduced and moved through House committees to a vote on the floor. If compromise can be reached among House Democrats, the Trump White House and lawmakers in the Senate, a drug pricing package could be added to year-end budget legislation.

Movement in Congress comes at a time when criticism of the industry – from Trump and lawmakers of both parties – appears to be having an effect on prices.

The Commerce Department’s inflation index for prescription drug prices has declined in seven of the last eight months, which is highly unusual. That index includes lower-cost generic drugs.

The story is different for brand name drugs, however. A recent analysis by The Associated Press shows that on average prices are still going up but at a slower pace. The cost of brand name drugs is most concerning to consumers, because it translates to steep copays for insured patients.

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The AP analysis found that in the first seven months of 2019, drugmakers raised list prices for brand name medicines by a median, or midpoint, of 5%.

That does reflect a slowdown. Prices were going up 9% or 10% over those months the prior four years.

But there were 37 price increases for every decrease in the first seven months of 2019.

Pricing data for the AP analysis came from the health information firm Elsevier. (VOA)