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Researchers Stumble Upon Stress-Related Baldness Cure

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- For mice who lost their hair because of stress, it was a lucky coincidence.

UCLA researchers were studying a drug designed to counteract the effects of stress on the digestive system.

It turns out, after five daily doses of this injection, three months later, the bald mice -- genetically altered to make too much stress hormone -- grew hair.

"We see hair loss all the time. I'd say depending on the day, I'd say between 10 to 20 percent of the patients, will have at least one of their problems: hair loss," says Dr. Jason Whalen, a dermatologist in Mt. Lebanon.

This particular type of hair loss, the kind related to stress, does occur in humans, usually after pregnancy, a big illness or surgery. Available treatments, like Rogaine, or a b vitamin called biotin, only work so-so.

"Time is the best thing," admits Dr. Whalen.

To have another option would be helpful, but to figure out if this compound (called astressin-B, which blocks a hormone, corticotropin releasing factor) that worked in mice is really safe and effective, much more research would have to be done.

"Just to see exactly how the medicine works, because right now they have no idea how it works," Dr. Whalen says.

There are lots of reasons for hair loss and if this treatment turns out to be anything, it would only be for stress-related cases. The types from infections, hormone imbalances, medications or genetics would not respond to this.


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