New cause for male pattern baldness discovered: Is cure next?

Men who lament the fact that they no longer have hair on their head may have some good news. Researchers have discovered a new potential cause that may help them get to the root of male pattern baldness.

A study published in the March 21 issue of Science Translational Medicine, found men who had a high level of a protein called prostaglandin D2 on their scalps were more likely to be bald. This protein and others like it have been known to block hair growth.

Male pattern baldness is the most common type of hair loss for men, the National Institute of Health said. According to WebMD, male pattern baldness occurs in 80 percent of men under 70. Symptoms include a thinning of hair at the hairline, eventually creating a U-shaped or horseshoe pattern of hair on both sides of the head. While treatment is not necessary, side effects including psychological stress and loss of self-esteem due to change in appearance can be experienced.

BBC News reports that the next step for the researchers is to find a treatment that targets the gene that triggers prostaglandin D2 protein.

Study author Dr. George Cotsarelis, a hair and scalp researcher at the University of Pennsylvania told BBC News, “The next step would be to screen for compounds that affect this receptor and to also find out whether blocking that receptor would reverse balding or just prevent balding – a question that would take a while to figure out.”

Cotsarelis told The Daily Mail the treatment could possibly be available within five years.

“The nice thing about dermatology and hair loss in general is that you can take compounds that maybe are being used as a pill and put them in a topical formulation. When you apply this to the scalp… you would allow hair to grow,” he said. “We could imagine using this compound topically would be a great treatment.”

Right now, the only treatments for male pattern baldness are minoxidil, commonly known as Rogaine, and Propecia, a prescription pill originally developed to treat enlarged prostate glands, WebMD reported. Other ways to hide baldness, include hair pieces or hair transplants.

Any news about what causes male pattern baldness is good news for people with this affliction. While hereditary factors and sex hormones have been linked, no direct cause has been determined. Often times the “cures” have been discovered by chance. For example, Rogaine was initially a treatment for high blood pressure, according to WebMD.


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