Potential 'cure' for baldness found in side effect of osteoporosis drug

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Scientists believe a drug originally meant to treat osteoporosis could end hairless altogether.

Researchers at Manchester University made the breakthrough after discovering that a drug created to treat brittle bones had a positive effect on hair follicles.

For Hawkshaw and his team, the next step is to do "a clinical trial to see if the treatment was effective and safe in people", he told the BBC.

Currently, there are only two drugs, approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), available for the treatment of hair loss - minoxidil and finasteride.

Now there are only two drugs that can cure baldness and both have side effects while only producing disappointing results. The research work concluded that the drug actively targets a protein which blocks the hair growth. In lab tests, the drug started promoting growth in hair follicles in just two days - that's pretty quick.

The drug was actually originally created to treat transplant patients, to suppress transplant rejection and autoimmune diseases.

"Although our study was small, it provides crucial evidence that JAK inhibitors may constitute the first effective treatment for people with alopecia areata", said Dr Julian Mackay-Wiggan, associate professor at Columbia University and a dermatologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

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The research has been published in the Public Library of Science Biology.

The compound WAY-316606 could therefore be used to treat baldness, without patients suffering the same side effects as they would on CsA.

"When the hair growth-promoting effects of CsA were previously studied in mice, a very different molecular mechanism of action was suggested", Dr. Hawkshaw explained.

The drug causes a number of side effects like headaches, vomiting, and high blood pressure.

The lack of treatment for the hereditary condition has led to thousands of men undergo painful hair transplant procedures.

The article notes that the study was conducted only in a laboratory with samples of hair follicles more than 40 men who have been hair transplant procedure. However, they don't show significant results, and they even have unwanted side effects.

Follicles soon went into the active phase of hair growth - known as "anagen" - and began sprouting new hair.