The Stanford University researchers said that the molecule, called laminin-511, acts like an operator, transferring messages, or proteins, between the outer and inner layers of skin, an exchange that ultimately drives hair formation.
It is expected that laminin-511 could potentially regenerate the actual follicles that grow hair, unlike existing products that slow hair loss.
"Loss of hair is not going to kill anybody. At the same time, for some people, hair loss can be a really traumatic thing, especially for women," said Dr. Peter Marinkovich, the study's senior author and an associate professor at Stanford University's School of Medicine.
He believes that the treatment could ultimately help patients who suffer from alopecia, a disorder that can cause hair loss in patches, or speed up hair growth for chemotherapy patients.
In fact, researchers also believe that the molecule might have the ability to regenerate other developing tissues, like limbs or even organs; but further tests are necessary to understand exactly how that process works.
In the study, mice injected with the purified molecule grew back hair in two weeks, at half the thickness of a normal rodent.
The study is published in the issue of the Journal of Genes and Development.