A lotion that cures male-pattern baldness could be for sale in as little as two years. University of Pennsylvania dermatologist George Cotsarelis says the lotion works by inhibiting a single enzyme, prostaglandin D2 (PGD2), which he says is the "major" enzyme connected to hair loss.
And the cure would also extend to men of all ages who have already lost their hair.
"We really do think if you remove the inhibition, you get longer hair," Cotsarelis told the journal Science Translational Medicine.
Cotsarelis and his team of researchers first applied the lotion to mice and found that it was effective in both stopping hair loss and in regenerating follicles that had already ceased to produce longer hairs.
"During normal follicle cycling in mice, Ptgds and PGD2 levels increase immediately preceding the regression phase, suggesting an inhibitory effect on hair growth," the study reads. "We show that PGD2 inhibits hair growth in explanted human hair follicles and when applied topically to mice."
Cotsarelis says he is currently shopping the lotion to several U.S. drug firms and hopes the product can be sold publicly in the near future.
He says that there are already prescription antiasthma drugs available, which work by reducing PGD2 levels. The presence of those treatments should help accelerate the baldness cure's availability in stores. The transition from discovery to potential product has already been a rapid one, as the study results were only first announced in March.
"I can't see why we won't soon be able to intervene to prevent hair loss," Des Tobin, the director of the University of Bradford Centre for Skin Sciences told the Telegraph, calling the study "a big step forward."