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Getting to the roots of hair loss
Date:2/24/2008

A healthy individual loses around a hundred hairs a day. Nothing to worry about as long as they are constantly replaced and the losses occur evenly around the whole scalp. But when hair loss goes well beyond this level it can become quite a problem for those affected not only superficially in terms of looks but also psychologically. A breakthrough on the hair front has now been made by an international research team headed by scientists at the University of Bonn. After six years of research they have succeeded in identifying a gene that is responsible for a rare hereditary form of hair loss known as Hypotrichosis simplex. The scientists are the first to identify a receptor that plays a role in hair growth. They now hope that their research findings will lead to new therapies that will work with various forms of hair loss. The study, due to appear in the March edition of "Nature Genetics", can be accessed in advance on the internet (http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ng.84) from January 24 (1pm US Eastern Time).

"Although Hypotrichosis simplex is very uncommon, it may prove critical in our search for an understand of the mechanisms of hair growth," says project leader Dr. Regina Betz from Bonn's Institute of Human Genetics, summing up the research results. The disease is inherited and affects both men and women. Sufferers generally begin to go bald during childhood. The process of hair loss (alopecia) then advances with age, especially around the scalp.

The cause of Hypotrichosis simplex in the form examined in this project is a genetic defect. It prevents certain receptor structures on the surface of hair follicle cells from being correctly formed. It has been found that when messengers from outside bind to these receptors they trigger a chain reaction in the cell interior which is apparently needed for the hair follicle to function normally. Such a receptor that plays a specific role in hair growth was pr
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Contact: Dr. Regina C. Betz
regina.betz@uni-bonn.de
49-228-287-22344
University of Bonn
Source:Eurekalert

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