PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Going bald is on the mind of a lot of men.

“About 80 percent of men will have some baldness by the time they’re 70, so it’s quite a common theme. We see a lot of it,” said St. Clair Hospital dermatologist, Dr. Brian Horvath.

A protein in the scalp called PGD2 (prostaglandin D2) may be part of the problem. Researchers did genetic studies on different parts of the scalp, and in the areas gone bare, there was a higher concentration of genes for this protein. In mouse studies, high amounts of the protein slowed hair growth as well.

The thought is if it can be blocked with a drug, hair will once again flourish.

“It’s been tested in animals, but not humans yet, so it would definitely have to go through some human trials. At least five to 10 years down the road. But it might work in women as well as men, which is something we need more treatments for,” Dr. Horvath continued.

It would be different from what’s available now, with its potential side effects.

“It has a lot of potential for the future. Now everything today is more of a hormone-based treatment. It has some unwanted side effects, occasionally some sexual side effects,” he said.

More than half of men over the age of 50 have some hair loss.

So would men take a drug like this?

“No way!” said Kim Nibarger of Pittsburgh. “I’ve not had hair longer than I’ve had hair, and I like it. And I save money on shampoo.”

“I make sure I cover the bald spots as I’m getting older,” said Don Faulkner of Greentree. “The whole idea of nature, I don’t want to mess with it.”

“Definitely!” said Nick Olivito of Fairmont, W. Va. “The guys that begin to get bald and the guys who are officially old, and I’d like to delay that day as long as possible.”

For male pattern baldness, what’s out there now includes Propecia and Rogaine. Propecia affects hormones related to hair loss, and Rogaine is thought to improve blood flow.

As for PGD2 – experimental drugs that block this protein are being studied for allergies and facial flushing, and whether hair grows will be something the researchers will watch.

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Dr. Maria Simbra