The study was conducted in a lab using human hair samples, but may be a viable treatment for people experiencing hair loss, according to study co-author Dr. Nathan Hawkshaw of the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom.
Minoxidil and finasteride are now the only drugs prescribed to treat pattern baldness "but both have side effects and often produce disappointing results", says The Daily Telegraph.
Exploring other possible options, Hawkshaw and his colleagues discovered that the drug WAY-316606 reduces expression of a protein called SFRP1.
After two days, the measured rate of hair growth increased significantly in the treated follicles.
The drug was actually originally created to treat transplant patients, to suppress transplant rejection and autoimmune diseases.
Clinical trials are needed to test its safety and effectiveness before it could hit the market. Publishing their results in the journal Plos Biology, they hope that it can now be developed into a form that could be used to treat alopecia.
(CsA), which has been commonly used since the 1980s to suppresses transplant rejection and autoimmune diseases. Hair growth, however, is the least problematic side-effect of CsA, leading project leader, Nathan Hawkshaw, to look for another solution. However, they don't show significant results, and they even have unwanted side effects. As of now, the most effective treatment for balding is opting for a hair transplantation surgery.
For the experiments, scalp hair follicles from over 40 patients were obtained through the means of a collaboration with British hair transplant surgeon Dr. Asim Shahmalak from Crown Clinic, U.K.
The study was released on Tuesday and suggests the compound was able to prolong anagen, which is the active growth phase of hair follicles.