Research on hair loss genetics and related topics.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, who were investigating the biological causes of androgenetic alopecia or common genetic hair loss, have discovered that levels of a certain inhibitor protein, called Prostaglandin D2 (PD2), are elevated in bald areas on the scalp. This discovery could be an important breakthrough in developing a medical hair loss treatment that regulates the production of the protein, or one that blocks it from attaching to its receptor protein.
Dr. Angela Christiano, a colleague of Dr. Bernstein’s at Columbia University, has been studying the causes of alopecia areata and genetic hair loss for many years. She, in fact, suffers from the disease as well.
The New York Times has published a question and answer interview with Dr. Christiano which covers her own struggle with alopecia, her research into the causes of genetic hair loss, and where she sees the field going in the future.
Dr. Christiano at Columbia University Identifies APCDD1, A Newly Discovered Gene Associated With Hair Loss
Dr. Angela Christiano of Columbia University in New York and a team of scientific researchers, have identified a new gene involved in hair growth. Their discovery may affect the direction of future research for hair loss and the diagnosis and ultimate prevention of male pattern baldness.
The condition, which leads to thinning hair, is called hereditary hypotrichosis simplex. Through the study of families in Pakistan and Italy who suffer from this condition, the team was able to identify a mutation of the APCDD1 gene located in chromosome 18. This chromosome has been linked to other causes of hair loss.
Japanese scientists have located a gene that seems to regulate hair loss in mice. They feel that this gene may also play a role in hair loss in humans. The results of the studies were recently reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
We all have seen that some bald sons have bald fathers, even when no one on the mother’s side of the family has any hair loss. This suggests that the genetics of male pattern alopecia is more complicated, with multiple genes influencing hair growth. And it is likely that the inheritance of baldness is polygenetic, with relevant genes coming from both the x-chromosome of the mother and non-sex chromosomes of either parent. So where are the other genes?
Two independent research groups, one from England and the other Germany, both published in the journal Nature Genetics, have identified a gene locus p11 on chromosome 20 that seems to be correlated with male pattern hair loss, and since the gene is on a non-sex chromosome, it offers an explanation for why the inheritance of common baldness can be from either side of the family.