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Researchers say the dissolvable patch full of microneedles injects chemicals into the scalp that fuel blood vessels around follicles – and the development of a fresh rug.
In experiments, it caused bald mice to produce an unlimited supply of locks, without damaging the skin.
Now scientists believe it will work for humans – and among those in the queue could be Princes William and Harry, along with their uncle Edward.
The breakthrough also has implications for the pandemic – one in four Covid survivors suffer hair loss.
Corresponding author Prof Jianqing Gao, of Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, said: “Such a safe patch shows great potential for treatment of male pattern baldness.”
Prof Gao said the Chinese team’s focus was “on the primary causes of baldness – oxidative stress and insufficient circulation”.
The prototype, described in the US scientific journal ACS Nano, delivers a cocktail of chemicals to the scalp – that combats both problems. Then they made the patch with a mixture of hyaluronic acid, which is naturally abundant in human skin.
New blood vessels were stimulated around the treated lab rodents’ follicles.
The roots rapidly changed with early skin pigmentation and high levels of a compound found only at the onset of fresh hair growth.
Tests showed the patch was better than minoxidil — one of only two drugs currently available for balding — or androgenetic alopecia.
Such a safe patch shows great potential for treatment of male pattern baldness
Prof Jianqing Gao
Neither of the drugs is available on the NHS as they have side effects and are not always effective.
Patients often resort to hair transplantation surgery instead, which can cost thousands of pounds.
Prof Gao said: “For those losing their hair it can be distressing.”
Those who have undergone hair transplants include football stars Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs, Coldfeet actor James Nesbitt, singer Elton John and chef Gordon Ramsay.
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