Serendipity — the accidental discovery of something unexpected — played a key role in the development of PriaPlex®. In 2002 a leading medical lab in Taiwan recruited a team of herbal researchers and veterinarians and tasked them with developing a new, natural treatment for common inflammatory skin disease that cause painful skin blisters and hair loss in household pets.
After two years of research and developent the team delivered their final results — an all-natural herbal formula that was just as effective as the antibiotics and steroids commonly used to treat afflicted animals, but with the added benefit of being free of the dangerous side effects that typically limit the use of such drugs in pets (Fig. 1).
As the lab director reviewed the final report he noted that in addition to rapidly regrowing all of their previously lost hair, the treated animals were maintaining thicker, healthier fur coats, even during warm periods when seasonal shedding of hair was expected. Intrigued by this finding the researchers tested the formula on a group of dogs diagnosed with Alopecia X (also known as Black Skin disease), a condition that causes symmetrical loss of hair on both sides of the dogs body. Generally considered an untreatable disorder, within a few months of treatment the animals had completely recovered and regrown their hair .
Early Success with New Formula
Inspired by the formula’s ability to halt hair loss and restore hair growth in animals, the researchers decided to see if the formula might work on humans as well. They conducted a small trial with five human volunteers experiencing excessive hair loss (shedding 100 or more hairs per day). After two months the results were so promising that the lab decided to move ahead with a full-scale program to optimize and refine the formula for long-term human use.
Early Human Studies
The earliest trials involved patients diagnosed with Alopecia areata, or “spot areata.” In early stages, Alopecia areata causes clumps of hair to fall out with a gentle pull, leaving patients with one or more bare spots on the scalp.
Evidence suggests that Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder, caused when antibodies attack hair follicles, triggering inflammation and shedding of hair. Evidence shows that emotional stress can worsen symptoms.
Alopecia areata occurs in young people at a rate of approximately 17 per 100,000 per year. While the condition isn’t harmful, the psychological impact is problematic for young patients. Fortunately, the condition is generally temporary, and 80% the patients eventually self-heal.
In addition to the form seen in younger people, a more pervasive form of Alopecia areata appears in women over the age of 35. Also characterized by extensive hair loss, the condition usually clears up within one to two years, but the psychological stress of going bald makes this condition a profitable area for treatments at hair loss centers.
From these early cases the scientists concluded that the longer one waits before beginning treatment, the greater the chances for permant and unrecoverable damage to the hair follicles. The scientists also concluded that early treatment at the first signs of hair loss improves the probability of total recovery. Additionally, treatment should be continued until the underlying condition is eliminated to prevent a future recurrence of hair loss.