April 3, 2008

There is now a new diagnostic tool called HairDX. It is a commercially available genetic test which provides clues to a person’s risk for developing hereditary baldness.

The HairDX Test for Men
Scientists have identified a genetic variant of an androgen receptor gene found in more than 95% of bald men. Men with this genetic variant are at 60% risk of going bald by the age of 40. The test identifies this marker as well as another variant than indicates a low risk of hair loss.

The HairDX Test for Women
The HairDX test detects the genetic markers strongly associated with Female Hair Loss and provides an analysis of a woman’s likelihood of developing the kind of hair loss that is hereditary (called female pattern alopecia).

The test provides women with a score, called the CAG repeat score. A smaller CAG score is associated with a higher risk for significant hair loss (Ludwig grade II or III hair loss see: Classification of Hair Loss in Women) while a larger repeat score is associated with a lower risk for hair loss.

How is the Test Performed?
A specimen is obtained from the cells on the inside of a person’s cheek (this process doesn’t hurt – it is just like brushing your teeth). After obtaining the sample, the tissue is submitted to the lab at HairDX. The analysis can aid in making a more informed decision about possible treatments for future hair loss.

How is the Test Used?
The diagnosis of genetic hair loss is a clinical one. The most important sign is a change in hair shaft diameter (miniaturization) that can be identified using an instrument called a Densitometer. In men who have already started to thin, this is usually all that is needed to confirm that a person is going bald. When the hair loss is very early, a genetic test may give some addition information regarding the possible extent of the hair loss.

Female Androgenetic Alopecia is sometimes difficult to diagnose because women with genetic hair loss commonly develop a more diffuse pattern that can mimic a number of other medical conditions. The results from the Hair DX test give one more bit if information that, in conjunction with a history, physical exam, densitometry, and appropriate lab tests, can lead to the most accurate diagnosis of your hair loss.

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