Gene Linked to Hair Loss Brings Cure for Baldness Nearer

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A cure for
baldness has come a step closer after scientists identified a gene
that is connected to hair loss.

The breakthrough
should help scientists develop new treatments as well as help pinpoint
early in life which men are likely to lose their hair.

The Sox21 gene
has in the past been shown to be linked to the formation of nerve
cells, but the new study is the first to indicate its function in
ensuring hair retention.

Researchers
made the finding during experiments on mice which, like humans,
carry the gene.

The scientists
blocked the activity of the gene in mice and found that the rodents
started losing hair on their heads about 15 days after birth and
became completely naked a week later.

"It is
entirely possible that the gene is also a cause of thinning hair
among humans", said Professor Yumiko Saga at the National Institute
of Genetics in Tokyo.

Hairs have
a long growing phase – two years or more – followed by a short resting
phase of two or three months.

But as some
men age this pattern gradually reverses until eventually the resting
period is so long that there’s no new hair coming through to replace
the 100 to 150 hairs we lose daily through natural shedding.

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March
6, 2010

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