Gene Identified in Male Pattern Baldness May Lead to New Treatments

Thanks to researchers at Columbia, Stanford and Rockefeller Universities, a new treatment for hair loss that could result in hair regrowth may be on the horizon. The gene called APCDD1 is found to be the cause of a progressive form of hair loss that begins in childhood.

The hair loss is caused when the follicles go through a miniaturization process. The follicles shrink and become very narrow which results in the normal hair being replaced by fine hair sometimes referred to as “peach fuzz”.

Dr. Angela M. Christiano was the lead researcher from Columbia University and author of the study. She explained that by identifying the gene, researchers are able to better understand the process involved. Researchers are considering the possibility that this may also be a factor in Androgenic Alopecia, which may be the reason for hair loss in women, as well as men. She went on to say that even though the two diseases share certain similar processes physiologically that the cause of male patterned baldness is very complex and this may only be the tip of the iceberg.

The research involved analyzing data from a small number of families. The families were from Pakistan and from Italy and all had male patterned baldness in their hereditary line. The researchers discovered that the gene had a mutation in those that were affected by the disease. The gene is located on the genetic marker known as Chromosome 18.

It is this gene that blocks or inhibits the signals from one stem cell to another by causing a disruption in the signaling pathway. Prior to now, the pathway called a Wnt signaling pathway was only known to exist in mice. This is the first time it has been associated with human biology and linked to hair loss and regrowth. This means that hair growth patterns in mice and humans are more closely aligned than was thought previously.

Dr. Chritiano, who specializes in dermatology, genetics and development at Columbia University, was encouraged by this finding because it would suggest that a non-hormonal treatment for hair regrowth possible. She suggested that by learning to manipulate the Wnt pathways that treatments may help many more people than other treatments have been able to do so far.

The complexities of hair loss and hair growth is one that requires much more study. However, researchers are excited about the many new developments that have been discovered in the last year.

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