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Monday, 11 June, 2001, 11:27 GMT 12:27 UK
Baldness pill 'passing early tests'
Baldness: soon to be a thing of the past?
A pill that promotes hair growth is shaping up well in tests as a potential cure for baldness.

Preliminary research carried out by the makers GlaxoSmithKline have produced promising results.

Thus far it has been shown to be effective

Martin Sutton
Men with bald patches and receding hairlines have seen significant improvement while taking the drug dutasteride.

However, GlaxoSmithKline has stressed that tests are still at an early stage, and do not expect them to be completed for up to two years.

Glaxo spokesman Martin Sutton told the Daily Mail: "It's in phase two trials and thus far it has been shown to be effective.

"Obviously, it is early days. but in trials on several hundred people what has been shown is that there is a reduction in bald patches and a thickening of the hair."


The drug works by altering the way that the body breaks down the male sex hormone testosterone into another compound called dehydrotestosterone (DHT).

DHT plays a crucial role in the development of the male foetus.

However, it also causes the hair to thin dramatically in later life.

Scientists have already discovered another chemical that interfere with DHT - finasteride.

This chemical has been shown to promote modest hair regrowth.

However, DHT comes in two forms, and only one of these is influenced by finasteride.

The advantage of dutasteride is that it appears to block the action of both forms of DHT.

Many potential cures

Baldness is not life threatening, and it does not hurt, but it can ruin lives

Elizabeth Steel
Dr David Fenton, a consultant dermatologist, told BBC News Online that the drug could not be properly assessed until more detail was available about possible side effects.

He said: "If dutasteride does produce any beneficial effects then it is likely that it will have to be continued over the long term, and that if you stop taking it the effect will be lost."

Elizabeth Steel, founder of the support group Hairline International, said: "We hear about so many potential cures for baldness, but anything that helps would be great.

"Baldness is not life threatening, and it does not hurt, but it can ruin lives, marriages break up and careers are ruined."

Ms Steel set up the charity after losing her hair when she developed a condition called alopecia areata.

Her hair re-grew after she took minoxidil, a treatment that stimulates growth of the hair follicles directly.

The most common form of baldness is known as male pattern baldness, or alopecia androgenetica.

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See also:

07 Jun 00 | Health
Men to pay for anti-baldness drug
04 Mar 99 | Health
Brain growth linked to baldness
25 Jan 00 | Health
No hair, bad heart
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