News / Health

Hair Loss Gene Discovered

Researchers have discovered a gene that is involved in human hair growth, a development that might one day lead to safe treatments for common forms of baldness.

Scientists discovered the gene, called APCDD1, while studying a rare condition among several families in Pakistan and Italy that causes progressive baldness.  

Angela Christiano is professor of molecular dermatology at Columbia University.  She led the team of investigators from Columbia and Rockefeller Universities in New York, Stanford University in California, as well as scientists from Pakistan and Italy.

Christiano says the disease, hereditary hypotrichosis simplex, causes a shrinkage of the hair follicle on the scalp. "Imagine putting a picture of a hair follicle on a photocopier and hitting reduce.  It's a proportional reduction in the size of the hair follicle, so that instead of making a nice long, thick head hair like what grows on your scalp, you make a peach fuzz hair that is smaller and less pigmented," she said.

Christiano and her colleagues studying two families in Pakistan and a third in Italy with hereditary hypotrichosis, found a common mutation in the APCCD1 gene. "The gene is involved in Wnt [WINT] signaling, which is basically an accelerator - like an accelerator pedal in a car for hair growth.  And we found this inhibitor of Wnt signaling, when it's interrupted, leads to hair falling out or loss of hair," she said.

Wnt signaling has been shown to control hair growth in mice.  This is the first time it's been seen in humans.

In the case of the Pakistani and Italian families, hair loss begins at an early age and individuals are not able to grow their hair very long.  The disease is passed from one generation to the next.

The most common form of baldness in men, called male pattern baldness, has been linked to a gene that regulates the male hormone testosterone.  That's why many of the treatments for baldness contain hormones, which researchers say, might not be completely safe or effective.

Columbia University's Angela Christiano says the follicle miniaturization seen in hypotrichosis is also seen in male pattern baldness.  But the gradual hair loss seen in most men as they age is different than that of the Pakistani and Italian families. "While this gene gives us a handle on the biology of miniaturization, it wouldn't be yet called a target for a drug for hair growth," she said.

But researchers say the discovery could one day lead to safe and effective treatments for hair loss that do not involve the use of hormones.  Discovery of the hair growth gene is reported in this week's issue of the journal Nature.

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid