On the list of things that men worry about as they get older, losing all of your hair ranks pretty high. That’s why the Internet is awash with remedies for baldness. Some, like Rogaine, have proven to be effective, while others—such as pouring castor oil on your head—are a bit more dubious. Now, scientists say they’ve finally found a cure for the 40% of men who suffer from baldness by the age of 45, and the other 67% who experience it by the time they are 60.
Researchers at Manchester University’s Centre for Dermatology Research were testing an old immunosuppressive drug called cyclosporine A (CsA), which has been used since the 1980s to suppress transplant rejection and autoimmune diseases. One of the severe side effects of the drug was that it caused unwanted hair growth, due to the fact that it reduces the expression of SFRP1, a protein that inhibits the development of hair follicles.
Because CsA includes other extreme side effects, lead author Dr Nathan Hawkshaw and colleagues deemed it unsuitable as a cure for baldness. However, they found that a drug called WAY-316606, which was originally used to treat osteoporosis, inhibited SFRP1 in the same way as CsA, without the side effects.
The researchers conducted a lab study, the results of which were recently published in PLOS Biology, in which they collected hair follicles from 40 male hair-transplant patients and gave the patients the drug. Within just six days, the patients had sprouted 2mm of hair.
While a clinical trial is necessary to determine whether or not the drug can be marketed as a safe and effective use for hair loss, this is the closest we’ve ever come to discovering a “cure” for baldness. Especially since, as of now, only two drugs—minoxidil (better known as Rogaine) and finasteride (better known as Propecia)—are available as treatment, with hair transplants considered an alternative option.
“The fact this new agent, which had never even been considered in a hair loss context, promotes human hair growth is exciting because of its translational potential: it could one day make a real difference to people who suffer from hair loss,” Hawkshaw said.
As exciting as all of this is, it’s worth mentioning that being bald isn’t all bad. A 2017 study by the University of Pennsylvania found that women perceive bald men as taller, more confident, more powerful, and sexier than their hirsute counterparts. The downside is that baldness did make them appear, on average, four years older.
Still, the proof is in the pudding. Just look at Jason Statham, who is married to Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Or Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, whom women lust after in droves. So if you don’t have a full head of hair, don’t despair. And if you’ve got plenty to work with and want a new look for summer, check out the 15 Best Men’s Haircuts for Looking Instantly Younger.
For more on the science of sexual attraction, read Why Women Are Attracted to Square-Jawed Men.
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