Researchers may have found a possible panacea to baldness using a drug originally intended to treat osteoporosis.
It was found that the drug had a dramatic effect on hair follicles in the laboratory which stimulated their growth.
It contains a compound which targets a protein that acts as a brake on hair growth and is associated with baldness.
Project leader Dr Nathan Hawkshaw said that a clinical trial would be needed to see if the treatment was effectual and safe for humans.
The research, published in PLOS Biology, was done in a lab, with samples containing scalp hair follicles from more than 40 male hair-transplant patients.
The researchers, from the University of Manchester, first latched onto an old immunosuppressive drug, cyclosporine A, used since the 1980s to prevent transplant organ rejection and reduce symptoms of autoimmune disease.
The scientists found that the drug reduced the activity of a protein called SFRP1, a key growth regulator that affects many tissues including hair follicles.
But because of its side effects, CsA was unsuitable as a baldness treatment.
The team also looked for another agent that targeted SFRP1 and found that WAY-316606 was even better at suppressing the protein.
Dr Hawkshaw said the treatment could “make a real difference to people who suffer from hair loss”.
The article originally appeared in for BBC.