A potential new cure for baldness has been discovered using a drug originally intended to treat osteoporosis.
Researchers found the drug had a dramatic effect on hair follicles in the lab, stimulating them to grow.
It contains a compound which targets a protein that acts as a brake on hair growth and plays a role in baldness.
Project leader Dr Nathan Hawkshaw, from the University of Manchester, said it could “make a real difference to people who suffer from hair loss”.
Only two drugs are currently available to treat balding (androgenetic alopecia):
minoxidil, for men and women
finasteride, for men only
Neither is available on the NHS and both have side-effects and are not always very effective, so patients often resort to hair transplantation surgery instead.
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.
And Dr Hawkshaw told the BBC a clinical trial would be needed to see if the treatment was effective and safe in people.
What causes hair loss?
Hair loss is a daily occurrence and generally nothing to worry about. Some types are temporary and some are permanent.
You should see a doctor because of:
sudden hair loss
developing bald patches
losing hair in clumps
head itching and burning
worry about hair loss