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Cure For Baldness May Come From Unusual Sources

MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- Doctors say they're closer than ever to finding a cure for baldness, and from the most unusual sources.

Those sources include a drug that grows eyelashes and a prostate medication.

Thinning hair, receding hairlines and bald spots are unwelcome signs of the inevitable for as many as 80 percent of all men.

And for some men, hair loss can be devastating.

"Hair equates confidence," one man said.

It can be so embarrassing that one man who has lost his hair didn't want to show his face on camera. He has spent thousands on treatment, and although he was pleased with the results it was not exactly what he hoped for.

"Anyone with hair loss is waiting for that big breakthrough," he said.

Now, doctors said that big breakthrough may finally be here.

"I love Latisse, and I have very happy patients using Latisse," said Dr. Joyce Davis, a dermatologist.

Latisse is an eyelash growing drug which is now being tested for growing head hair. Davis said it is very effective, as long as the hair follicle, which is the cavity that contains the root of the hair, is still alive.

"Once a follicle has died, it's very hard to bring it back to life," Davis said, "but once a follicle is at stages of still producing hair, these drugs will help produce longer, darker, thicker hair."

Latisse was originally used to treat glaucoma. Doctors noticed increase lash growth as a side effect, something they also found with the prostate drug Avodart.

"Avodart is actually a wonderful drug for treating hair loss," Davis said.

A before-and-after photo comparison showed significantly more hair growth for a man who took Avodart. The makers of Avodart said after just six months, they found hair count increased by an average of 96 hairs per 1 inch diameter.

Now, they are getting ready to market it specifically for baldness.

"Sometimes we end up finding things that we use for other diseases that actually work on hair," said dermatologist Dr. Kavita Mariwalla.

And there are many other developments expected now that doctors know the cause of male pattern baldness — something that's evaded them until recently.

"In the areas where there was a loss of hair, there was over expression of prostaglandin D2," Mariwalla said.

Too much of the hormone prostaglandin D2 shuts hair follicles down, preventing hair growth.

Researchers and pharmaceutical companies are now racing to develop a bald cure.

"It's a very exciting finding," Mariwalla said.

And in another exciting finding, Vitamin D is crucial to hair growth. Scientists are hoping it can coax dormant follicles to grow hair again.


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