Baldness, one of man’s most primal of fears. The type of thing that regularly leaves men wandering in a cold-sweated daze after staring at their own reflection for 20 minutes wondering if there forehead really does look a bit bigger today.
Are they receding? Probably. Most men are, it’s just one of those things. Although perhaps not for much longer as news reaches us that a bunch of scientists have developed a new drug to cure baldness for good.
Led by Dr Angela Christiano, the team at Columbia University accidentally discovered the effect of JAK inhibitors on hair follicles while studying alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease that causes loss of hair.
Already tested on mice – unlike those who went without, the test mice grew new hair within just 10 days, and were able to regrow their hair completely in just three weeks - the JAK inhibitor has been shown to work on human hair follicles too, suggesting the days of grown men trying to style it out are (comb) over.
So how does it work? It hinders the Janus Kinase family of enzymes inside hair follicles which are suspended or 'sleeping', essentially waking the hair up. And according to Dr Christiano, it’s quite effective:
“There aren’t many compounds that can push hair follicles into their growth cycle so quickly. Some topical agents induce tufts of hair here and there after a few weeks, but very few compounds have this potent an effect so quickly,” he said.
Don’t expect it on the high street just yet – researchers, now looking at its effect on hair follicles affected by hair loss disorders, need to iron out the kinks. Which is probably a good thing.
There’s the older Bruce Willis look and then there’s full on Chewbacca.