Over 200 baldness-linked genetic markers uncovered

Feb 17, 2017, 00:30
Over 200 baldness-linked genetic markers uncovered

The researchers are still a long way from accurate predicting male pattern baldness in men, but the study brings scientists closer.

The research has discovered the genetics underlying male pattern baldness. This adds further and substantial evidence that baldness is, at least in part, influenced by the genetics of a man's mother.

Celebrities like Elton John and chef Gordon Ramsay have undergone hair transplants to hang on to their youth after thinning on top.

However, it's possible to predict whether a man will lose hair with pretty good certainty. Close to 300 genetic regions tied to male pattern baldness have been identified, according to a study published online February 14 in PLOS Genetics. One of the genes on the X chromosome - the gene for the androgen receptor, which binds to the hormone testosterone - was strongly linked with severe hair loss. "The findings pave the way for an improved understanding of the genetic causes of hair loss", Dr. Riccardo Marioni, the study's lead investigator, said. The real cause of hair loss is still unclear, but United Kingdom scientists might be one step closer to understanding why it's so prevalent. While sufferers do not normally go completely blad, they are left with a horseshoe shape around the back and sides of the head. Most are fated to at least have their hair thin out. That search revealed 287 genetic variations, located on more than 100 genes, that were linked with severe hair loss.

Scientists are also continuously performing experiments to be able to develop a drug to treat baldness and other related conditions.

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Earlier studies have pointed to eight predictable markers of hair loss in men. More accurate predictions are still undergoing experimentation to be able to help identify sub-groups of the population that have a higher risk of losing their hair.

The study was performed by collecting genomic and health information from the UK Biobank of over 52,000 men, aged between 40 years to 69 years. But this study happily suggests genes which appear to be shared for baldness and Parkinson's disease are not statistically significant.

Saskia Hagenaars, a PhD student from The University of Edinburgh's Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, who jointly led the research, said: "We identified hundreds of new genetic signals".

Forty of the genetic variations were located on the X chromosome, which men inherit from their mothers, the researchers said.

Before the new study, by researchers at Edinburgh University and published in the journal PLOS Genetics, only a handful of genes related to baldness had been identified.