U.S. scientists have pinpointed a protein that triggers hair loss and the research could lead to a cream to treat baldness, as reported by Helen Briggs at BBC News.In studies of bald men and laboratory mice, researchers found that levels of a key protein called prostaglandin D synthase are elevated in cells of hair follicles located in bald patches on the scalp, but not in hairy areas.
Hair loss is initiated when the protein binds to a receptor on the cells of hair follicles, causing the follicles to shrink to the point of being so tiny that it leads to the appearance of baldness.
The study found that mice bred to have high levels of the protein went completely bald, while transplanted human hairs stopped growing when given the protein.
Currently Propecia and Rogaine are the only two drugs approved by the FDA for treating hair loss.
Propecia alters levels of testosterone and can lead to sexual dysfunction and impotence.
Rogaine is an alcohol-based liquid that works by widening blood vessels and opening potassium channels, thereby revitalizing hair follicles.
Rogaine’s main ingredient, Minoxidil, was originally created as a drug for treating high blood pressure and was found to have the side effect of growing hair.
But Rogaine seems to merely slow hair loss because it is most effective for younger men who have experienced hair loss for less than five years.
The new research creates potential for developing a cream that can be applied to the scalp to prevent baldness and possibly help hair regrow.
The researchers said several known drugs that target this pathway have already been identified and some are in clinical trials.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.