Understanding hair biology could pave way for treating disorder

July 23, 2009

A change in the way we process lipids could mean relief for those who suffer from cicatricial alopecia, or scarring hair loss.

Researchers from Case Western Reserve University's School of Medicine and the University of California, San Francisco, have discovered a link between the disorder and a defect in lipid processing.

Principal investigator Pratima Karnik, Ph.D., of Case Western Reserve; Paradi Mirmirani, M.D., of Case Western Reserve and the University of California, San Francisco; and Vera Price, M.D., of the University of California, San Francisco, found that unprocessed lipids set the stage for developing scarring hair loss. Their work suggests that either processed lipids are necessary for hair growth or unprocessed lipids are toxic, corroborating similar studies performed in mice. The researchers found that treating patients with drugs that enhance processing relieved the clinical symptoms and signs of the disorder.

The work draws praise from George Cotsarelis, M.D., director of the University of Pennsylvania Hair and Scalp Clinic.

“This research represents a great leap forward in the field of scarring hair loss,” he said. “The study may lead to more effective treatments, and one day, possibly prevention of scarring hair loss, now an extremely difficult problem for both patient and physician. This work may also provide insights into other .”

Provided by Case Western Reserve University (news : web)

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