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Scientists discover links between hair loss and genetics

Scientists from the University of Bonn recently discovered a gene that is responsible for a hereditary form of hair loss known as Hypotrichosis simplex. The research is the first-ever to identify a specific receptor that is essential for hair growth. The researchers said that their findings will lead to new breakthroughs that could resolve the problem of hair loss. "Although Hypotrichosis simplex is very uncommon, it may prove critical in understanding the mechanisms of hair growth," says project leader Dr. Regina Betz from Bonn's Institute of Human Genetics. Individuals affected by this condition usually go bald during childhood.

Alopecia or the process of hair loss especially around the scalp progresses as an individual gets older. As examined in the project, the researchers found out that the cause of Hypotrichosis simplex is genetic abnormality that restricts certain receptor structures on the surface of hair follicle cells from forming properly. These receptors play an essential role in hair growth that was previously unknown to scientists. Dr. Markus N?then, chairman of Genetic Medicine at Bonn University's Life & Brain Centre said that the defective receptor structure falls into the category of what are known as G-protein-coupled receptors.

This is good news, because, they are particularly well suited as points of impact for drug treatments, he said. The researchers were also able to pinpoint an endogenous messenger that attaches in the hair follicle to the receptor. Researchers believe that the study opens up opportunities for future studies about hair loss. "We can now search selectively for related substances that may be used in therapies for hair loss," say Dr. Ivar von Kügelgen of Bonn’s Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology. Because of the study, the possibility of developing medicines that will benefit patients suffering from hair loss has significantly improved.


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