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Topical gel plus finasteride beneficial for patients with androgenetic alopecia

Presented by
Dr Michela Starace, University of Bologna, Italy
EADV 2022

In a trial including 58 participants with androgenetic alopecia, a significantly improved effect was present in individuals using a combination of a growth factor-containing topical gel together with topical minoxidil and oral finasteride. Conveniently, the gel only needed to be applied once a week.

Androgenetic alopecia is the most common form of alopecia, which affects primarily men but also 20‒50% of patients are women, particularly after menopause. First-line treatments are topical minoxidil and oral finasteride for men, but many patients do not respond sufficiently, and it often takes very long to show effective results. Dr Michela Starace (University of Bologna, Italy) and her team realised the need for adjuvants and newer modalities of treatment to give faster and better outcomes [1]. Therefore, they explored whether non-pharmacological products could increase the effectiveness of treatment for androgenetic alopecia and telogen effluvium.

They formulated a topical treatment including oligopeptides with growth-factor mimicking activity, caffeine, taurine, and a lactoferrin-based iron-chelating complex (GFM-DA gel) and assessed its effectiveness when combined with topical minoxidil and oral finasteride. The gel was administered as add-on treatment once weekly. The 2 combination study arms were compared with 2 control groups that were treated with topical minoxidil or oral finasteride only. All study participants had androgenetic alopecia exceeding grade III, including grades IV and V on the Norwood-Hamilton scale. The primary endpoint was the change in the 7-point Global Photographic Assessment score (GPAS) from baseline to week 12 and 24.

At 12 weeks, the GPAS scores were 1.6 in the minoxidil and 1.1 in the finasteride monotherapy group compared with 1.6 in the group that applied the gel together with minoxidil and 1.8 in the gel-finasteride combination group. Treatment efficacy increased up to week 24: At this time, GPAS scores were 2.2 in the minoxidil only group, 2.4 in the minoxidil plus gel group, 1.9 in the finasteride group, and 2.7 in the group that was treated with both oral finasteride and the gel. The gel was generally well-tolerated.

Dr Starace concluded that adding a once-weekly topical gel containing caffein, growth-factor mimicking agents, taurine, and an iron-chelating complex to androgenetic alopecia drugs produced clinically better results, especially when used together with oral finasteride.

  1. Starace M, et al. Efficacy and tolerability of a gel formulation based on mimicking growth factors oligopeptides, taurine and caffeine in adrogenic alopecia subjects treated with topical minoxidil or oral finasteride: A prospective, assessor-blinded, parallel groups study. FC04.09, EADV Congress 2022, Milan, Italy, 7‒10 September.

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