Balding, or hair loss, is almost synonymous with the advent of age, but that may soon be a thing of the past. That is if a group of scientists from South Korea has anything to say about it.

Researchers led by Choi Kang-yeol of Yonsei University in Seoul have created a new biochemical agent they say not only prevents hair loss but actually promotes the growth of new hair. They call this new wonder material PTD-DMB.

Choi and his team found that lost hair that does not regrow happens due to the interaction between two different proteins that are found on the scalp. One of them is called CXXC5, and on binding with the other protein, it prevents the regeneration of hair follicles. PTD-DMB prevents the two proteins from binding and therefore promotes new hair growth.

PTD-DMB was applied to the bare skin of mice for a period of 28 days, and the researchers saw it led to the growth of new hair follicles. When valproic acid (used in the treatment of epilepsy, bipolar disorder, and migraines) was applied alongside PTD-DMB, new hair growth among the mice was even faster.

In a paper titled “Targeting of CXXC5 by a Competing Peptide Stimulates Hair Regrowth and Wound-Induced Hair Neogenesis” that appeared in the November issue of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, the researchers wrote: “Disrupting the CXXC5-Dishevelled interaction with a competitor peptide activated the Wnt/β-catenin pathway and accelerated hair regrowth and wound-induced hair follicle neogenesis. Overall, these findings suggest that the CXXC5-Dishevelled interaction is a potential target for the treatment of hair loss.”

The team is currently testing PRD-DMB on animals for toxicity, according to South Korean media reports.

“We have found a protein that controls the hair growth and developed a new substance that promotes hair regeneration by controlling the function of the protein. We expect that the newly developed substance will contribute to the development of a drug that not only treats hair loss but also regenerates damaged skin tissues,” Choi reportedly said.

The research was funded by the country’s Ministry of Science and Technology.