Study Discovers Genetic Receptors Responsible For Hair Loss

by W. Darren -

Posted on Monday 29th of December 2008

Hair loss is natural. According to dermatologists, a healthy individual can lose about one hundred hair strands in just one day. However, hair loss becomes an alarming condition when a person loses more than the usual amount of hair that he sheds. Moreover, hair loss also becomes a problem if there is no observable hair growth or if hair loss occurs in the form of patches. When a hair loss problem occurs, immediate treatment may be vital. In relation to the continuous discovery and development of various hair loss treatments these days, a significant breakthrough has been made by an international team of researchers.

Culprit for the Hypotrichosis Simplex

Through a recent research made, researchers have successfully discovered a gene that is responsible for the development of the Hypotrichosis simplex. This is a hair loss condition that is hereditary. When afflicted with this condition, the patient will experience the onset of baldness at an early age – particularly even before he reaches his teenage years. As the patient grows older, the hair loss condition worsens. Eventually, the person afflicted with the disease can go bald and even lose his body hair.

Dr. Regina Betz, the project leader from Bonn’s Institute of Human Genetics notes that their study is important primarily because it explores the mechanisms of hair growth. She points out that despite the fact that the occurrence of Hypotrichosis simplex is not very common, the findings of the study promote an overall understanding on the various factors that might contribute to the development of various forms of hair loss in general.

The study basically involved the analysis of the DNA samples of a Saudi-Arabian family, where four of the family members were diagnosed with Hypotrichosis simplex. The genetic material collected from the family provided the research project team with the key to understand the basic mechanisms of hair growth and the various factors that prompt the occurrence of hair loss conditions.

Based on the results of the study, the Hypotrichosis simplex is a genetic defect that is promoted by an improper growth of receptors that are vital for the natural hair growth process. When a person has this condition, the receptor structures on the surface of the hair follicles are not properly formed. The study notes that “when messengers from outside bind to these receptors (on the hair follicles), they trigger a chain reaction in the cell interior.” These receptors are needed for the hair follicle to function normally.

Discovering New Medications for Hair Loss

Dr. Markus Nöthen, Chair of Genetic Medicine at Bonn University's Life & Brain Centre, further explains the importance of the recent study made. He notes that “the defective receptor structure falls into the category of what are known as G-protein-coupled receptors”. These receptors are the usual “points of impact” for various forms of medications and treatments for hair loss. In addition to that, the study also showed that there is an “endogenous messenger” that is responsible for binding the hair follicle with the receptor.

According to Dr. Ivar von Kügelgen from Bonn's Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, the study has opened up new opportunities for various researches that are aimed at the development of “new active agents”. He further notes that dermatologists and scientists can now specifically focus on looking for some substances that can be used in various hair loss therapies. These new medications can then be used to cure not just Hypotrichosis simplex, but other types of hair loss conditions as well.

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