Baldness Genes | New from Edinburgh University

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Baldness and its causes. Which genes are responsible?

Androgenetic alopecia, better known as “common baldness”, is a condition that affects nearly 80% of men and 40% of women worldwide.

It is due to a susceptibility of the hair follicles to the action of an androgenic hormone.

The aetiology of the condition is still not entirely clear to experts, and of course not knowing the causes also makes the search for an effective remedy extremely complex.

What is certain is that environmental and, above all, genetic factors contribute to the action of the hormone DHT (dihydrotestosterone), which is responsible for hair loss.

What do experts know about baldness genes?

Studies suggest that the androgen receptor gene is located in the X chromosome. Consequently, this predisposition is inherited on the mother’s side. This is why it is said that to know the course of one’s own situation, one only needs to refer to the thinning stage of one’s maternal grandfather. There is a 50% chance that a man will share the same X chromosome as his mother’s father.

However, studies also show that people who have a bald father have a very high probability (2.5 times higher) of suffering from baldness, regardless of their mother’s genes.

Scientists are continually conducting research to understand exactly which genes are affected, in order to be able to understand how to combat androgenetic alopecia effectively.

A breakthrough in research

Recently, a team of researchers from the University of Edinburgh conducted a trial on a sample of 52,000 men. Of these individuals, 16,700 did not suffer from any form of baldness, 12,000 were at an early stage of androgenetic alopecia, 14,000 were at an ‘intermediate’ stage and 9,800 were at an advanced stage.

The study indicated that there are 287 DNA sequences capable of indicating a predisposition to baldness.

The 287 genes are all found on the X chromosome, which confirms what was previously stated. This discovery would finally open new doors not so much to a cure, for which many studies are still needed, but rather to the development of tests capable of understanding whether there is a tendency to lose hair on the part of the individual.

Subjects taking part in the trial who had the lowest number of these 287 genes showed less thinning. In contrast, among those who showed a high number of these genes, more than 60% suffered from severe hair loss.

As we know, research in the field of hair loss treatment is still at an embryonic stage, although dozens of experts have worked over the past decades to find an effective “recipe”. Many studies will be needed to be able to better read our DNA. It seems, however, that this discovery may pave the way for new insights and represent a first step towards a possible solution.

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