Monday, March 17, 2008

The bald can now take heart: a new research has identified a gene associated with loss of hair that could, in turn, lead to new drugs to treat baldness.

The particular gene has been blamed for a rare hereditary form of hair loss called hypotrichosis simplex – a condition that affects 1 in 200,000 people.
Those suffering from hypotrichosis simplex start getting bald in childhood.

It was after six years of research that an international team, headed by scientists at the University of Bonn, Germany, succeeded in identifying the
gene hypotrichosis simplex that is responsible for the rare hereditary form of hair loss.

This is the first research of its kind to identify a receptor that plays a role in hair growth and hair loss.

A healthy person loses about 100 hairs a day, which is not a problem provided the lost hairs are replaced and the losses occur evenly around the head. However, when hair loss goes beyond this point, it can become a problem for those affected, particularly a psychological one.

The condition affects both men and women. The sufferers usually begin going bald in childhood and the process of hair loss advances with age.

In the new study, reported in the journal Nature Genetics, Regina Betz, of the University of Bonn and leader of the study, writes, “There is a very good
chance of developing a therapy to treat hair loss based on this finding.”

The researchers used DNA samples from 11 members of a Saudi Arabian family that had the rare condition and found a mutation in the P2Y5 gene prevented proteins called growth receptors on hair follicle cells from forming properly. The DNA samples helped the researchers to understand some of
the fundamental mechanisms of hair growth and hair loss.

The study of the samples showed that a substance needed to stimulate hair growth could not attach to the defective receptors and may help explain hair loss, the researchers said. The finding, the researchers added, could also lead to making drugs that could boost hair growth.

They now hope that their will lead to new therapies that could treat various forms of hair loss.


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