Heady spin off

SCIENCE appears to have finally found the elusive cure for baldness. Proscar, a drug manufactured by Merck & Co to treat enlarged prostate glands, has an interesting side-effect: in low doses, it increases hair growth.

In clinical trials carried out on 200 young men at an early stage of baldness, low doses of the drug produced a significant increase in hair numbers compared with patients taking a placebo, according to Merck research chief Edward M Scolnick. The dose is much lower than that used to treat enlarged prostates.

Merck officials claim low doses of the drug are safe, but higher doses could cause some side effects. Merck plans to market the drug as a baldness treatment once further studies to prove its effectiveness are completed.