Researchers working on a new treatment for osteoporosis may have inadvertently discovered a cure for baldness.
The Bbc has reported that researchers working on a drug for osteoporosis found the medication had a dramatic effect on hair follicles, stimulating growth.
Baldness is usually caused by hormonal changes that mostly affect men. The drug, it seems, contains a compound that targets a protein that restricts hair growth.
Project leader Dr. Nathan Hawkshaw, from the University of Manchester, said it could “make a real difference to people who suffer from hair loss”.
The researchers first latched onto an old immunosuppressive drug, cyclosporine A, used since the 1980s to prevent transplant organ rejection and reduce symptoms of autoimmune disease.
It was discovered that this drug effectively targeted a protein called SFRP1, which is a growth regulator that affects many tissues including hair follicles, however, due to its side effects it was deemed unsuitable to treat hair loss.
The team of researchers then began to look for an alternative method to target the SFRP1 protein and found WAY-316606, which seemed to be even better at suppressing the protein.
Like all pharmaceutical products clinical trials would be needed to test the effectiveness of the treatment and see whether it is safe to use on people.
Currently, there are two drug treatments available to treat hair loss, neither of which are available on the NHS.
- Minoxidil, for men and women
- Finasteride, for men only
Both these treatments may have some side effects and results aren’t a guarantee, so patient looking for a more permanent solution to their hair loss tend to seek hair transplantation surgery instead.