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Study Offers Insights Into Male Pattern Baldness
Date:4/14/2010

Finding could lead to better treatment for hair loss conditions, experts say,,

WEDNESDAY, April 14 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers are reporting that they've linked a gene to a rare condition that makes people develop thin "peach fuzz" hair, potentially paving the way toward greater insight into male-pattern baldness.

The finding won't immediately lead to a better treatment or cure, said Angela M. Christiano, co-author of the study, published April 15 in the journal Nature. And though it's "just a tiny little piece of the puzzle," it could provide perspective about a component of male-pattern baldness known as shrinkage, said Christiano, director of the Center for Human Genetics at Columbia University.

Contrary to popular belief, male-pattern baldness doesn't cause hair to stop growing. Instead, hair still grows but it's short and fine, like peach fuzz, Christiano said.

"If you look at a very bald scalp, they are still making tiny little peach-fuzz hairs," she said. "A follicle is still there. The hardware is still there to grow a hair of some kind."

People with a rare condition called hereditary hypotrichosis simplex have the same problem, although it begins at birth.

In the new study, Christiano and her colleagues examined the genetic makeup of members of two Pakistani families and one Italian family whose members have inherited the condition. The researchers discovered a gene in which a mutation appears to cause the problem.

The gene, called APCDD1, is located in a region of chromosome 18 that has been shown in previous studies to be linked to other forms of hair loss. The researchers also found that APCDD1 inhibits a signaling pathway that has long been shown to control hair growth in mice, but has not been extensively linked to human hair growth.

In addition to providing more insight into hereditary hypotrichosis simplex, the gene research "gives us an inroad i
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