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Hair Loss Mystery Solved
November 27, 2006 12:34

Geneticists from the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow State University and the University of Massachusetts have found the gene, responsible for human hair growth atrophy. The research, performed in republics of Chuvashia and Mariy-El, may be a possible key to the urgent problem of hair loss. The scientists are enthusiastic about further studying the genetic mechanism of the process and expect developing some measures for preventing hair loss and reducing unwanted hair growth as well.

The results of the research with participation of 171 500 Mariy-El citizens and 178 722 Chuvashia dwellers were published in the Science magazine and show an unusual genetic pathology of the Volga region population: both men and women totally or almost lack hair on their bodies. This phenomenon was different from usual hair loss, thus Russian geneticists from the Science centre of mental health decided to perform a thorough research of the subject.

The scientists have already found the gene, which is responsible for hair lack of some animals, mice, for example, and some human populations. However, this gene is not related to the Volga region population. It turned out that these 50 families, which showed absence of hair, suffered from a rare disease – hypotrichosis, which usually comes out with total hair loss or weak hair growth. The mutant gene, coding this disease, was transferred from one generation to another.


The scientists used most up-to-date techniques of genetic analysis, as well as molecular biology tools, and finally discovered the connection between the mentioned disease and the genes, located in the third chromosome. There appeared to be four of abovementioned genes. Scientists have performed a detailed, though useless, study of three of the said genes and only fourth gene, named LIPH (it is active in hair follicles), showed signs of mutation. Moreover, the mutation was not a point one – about a kilobase has disappeared from the mentioned gene. The head of the research says that scientists have already come across this gene – it codes phospholipase production. Lipases are a whole family of enzymes, participating in fat metabolism. However, the discovered lipase previously showed no signs of dealing with hair growth. In order to see how the lipase is involved into hair growth, the scientists have studied the gene activity in hair follicles and found that the said enzyme was indeed expressed in follicles in sites with stem cells. However, experiments failed to reveal physiological effect of the LIPH gene.


Thus, geneticists have found one of the hereditary causes of hair growth weakening – the discovered gene participated in fat metabolism – lipid production. Lipids are expected to help in developing therapeutical means for fighting with hair loss and become a cure for hair growth activation when and where necessary. Moreover, inhibiting lipid production will reduce unwanted hair growth. The scientists are enthusiastic about further studying of the said genetic mechanism, thus in several years we can expect to have “science-driven” shampoo or crème, which will solve problems with hair.


Kizilova Anna

Tags: health     

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