Gene linked to hair loss discovered by scientists in the US


SCIENTISTS IN the US are bullish about the discovery of a new hair-loss gene, something that could help the many millions of men with male pattern baldness.

While the gene is specifically linked to a form of hereditary childhood baldness, the researchers from Columbia, Rockefeller and Stanford universities in the US believe that the discovery may in time help those with adult baldness.

The hereditary form, known as hypotrichosis simplex, causes “hair follicle miniaturisation”, says Dr Angela Christiano, professor of dermatology and genetics and development at Columbia. She and colleagues publish their findings this morning in the journal Nature.

The errant gene culprit, APCDD1, was identified by analysing genetic information from several families from Pakistan and Italy affected by hereditary childhood hair loss.

While this occurs in children affected by hypotrichosis simplex, shrinking follicles are also central to male pattern baldness, says Dr Christiano. In both cases the follicles shrink, causing normal thick hair to be replaced by thin fine hair, also known as “peach fuzz”, the authors write.

Dr Christiano points out that while both conditions deliver a similar result, the gene discovery does not fully explain what lies behind male baldness. Yet, the discovery is important for what it might tell us about the onset of thinning hair.

“The identification of this gene underlying hereditary hypotrichosis simplex has afforded us an opportunity to gain insight into the process of hair follicle miniaturisation, which is most commonly observed in male pattern hair loss or androgenetic alopecia,” Dr Christiano says.