Bald men everywhere could be forgiven for thinking they have heard it all before.
But this time it seems a treatment really is on the horizon that offers hope of a new, hairy future to all those who had resigned themselves to living with a shiny pate.
Scientists reckon they have stumbled across a quick-acting drug that reverses baldness - and the treatment could be available in only five years.Laboratory tests on a chemical called astressin-B showed 'astounding' results for hair regrowth after one jab a day for just five days.
|Hair today, gone tomorrow? Bald celebrities like Ross Kemp may be please to learn a possible cure for hair loss has been discovered.
The discovery was an accidental side-effect of laboratory tests to see whether the drug could prevent stress-related stomach problems.
The tests were on mice and more research is needed to see if the chemical will have the same effect on humans. Yet if all goes well, the treatment could be in widespread use in five to ten years.
It is hoped it will help sufferers of male pattern baldness, which affects two-thirds of men as they age, as well as men and women with alopecia, in which small bald patches appear on the scalp.
The breakthrough comes from Univ ersity of Cali fornia researchers who we re studying mice with gut problems triggered by a stress hormone.
The mice's coats also thin as they age, leading to their backs eventually becoming bald. However, the researchers were stunned to see that the animals' fur also quickly regrew when they were given astressin-B.
It worked so well that three months after treatment the once-bald mice were indistinguishable from their healthy cagemates, the journal PLoS ONE reports.
Researcher Dr Million Mulugeta described the results as 'astounding', adding: 'This could open new avenues to treat hair loss in humans.'
What is more, just one jab of the drug a day for five days was enough to trigger the regrowth - and maintain the effects for up to four months.
“This is a comparatively long time, considering that a mouse's life span is less than two years,” said Dr. Mulugeta.
Further tests showed the treatment to work much better than minoxidil, one of the drugs of choice in treating hair loss. The team now plans to research just how the drug triggers regrowth, ahead of tests on people.
Treatments for baldness range from tablets to hair transplants - but success is variable and they can be expensive.
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