Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Men who experience hair loss may one day benefit from the discovery of genes that create risk for baldness and stem cells that could replenish hair follicles. Researchers in England and Germany have discovered a new genetic link to male pattern baldness, while Swedish researchers are working toward stem cell treatment for hair loss.

According to Felix F. Brockschmidt, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Bonn and one of the authors of a report on the German study published in the journal Nature Genetics, this is the second genetic connection to the type of hair loss experienced by many men and some women as they age. Brockschmidt acknowledged that the first gene known until now is on the X chromosome and that it is the most important for hair loss (alopecia). He stated, “We are sure that this new locus we found is the second most important.”

Brockschmidt also explained that this discovery may lead to genetic testing that could identify men who are most likely to lose hair with age. “Screening for the X chromosome locus and also for this new one can possibly show the risk of male pattern baldness,” he said.

However, Brockschmidt acknowledged that the prevention of hair loss in people with these gene variants is a different situation and emphasized that preventive treatment would not be available in the near future. He said, “As soon as we know the gene and how it functions, we can do something,” but that “Right now, we have identified the locus but not the gene.”

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