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Is it true that a successful cure has been found for baldness

00:00 Wed 13th Jun 2001 |

asks M Scott:

A. Possibly, and bald men worldwide can hardly contain their excitement. The internet is buzzing as the hirsutely-challenged try to find out more about this new 'wonder drug'.

Q. What is it
A.
It's drug called dutasteride, and trials so far show that it can dramatically shrink bald patches and improve hair growth.

Q. How does it do that
A.
What we call baldness is actually hair thinning to the point where it can't be seen. Dutasteride works by interfering with enzymes that break down the male hormone, testosterone, and turns it into dehydrotestosterone (DHT). In later life, this second hormone can cause hair to thin very dramatically. According to experts, interfering with the function of DHT can stop this thinning.

Q. Haven't there been similar 'cures' before
A.
There have already been two chemicals which interere with the action of DHT: minoxidil and finasteride. They work to a certain extent for about a third of the men who use them. But DHT comes in two forms, and dutasteride is the first to block the pathways of both forms of the hormone.

Q. Do I have to rub in on to my scalp
A.
No, it's taken as a tablet.

Q. Where can I get it
A.
Keep your wig on. It'll be between two and five years before it's licensed for use. The drug's manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, says that even though initial results have been promising, it is still early days. Large-scale human trials have still to be done.

Q. Does it have any side-effects
A.
Don't know yet. Interfering with testosterone brings the fear of loss of libido, but it's looking good so far, and the researchers are very hopeful. As are all those men who have just noticed a paler patch forming on the top of their head...


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