After six years of research, scientists have succeeded in identifying a gene that is responsible for a rare hereditary form of hair loss known as Hypotrichosis simplex. They now hope that their research will lead to new therapies that will work with more common forms of hair loss.
Although Hypotrichosis simplex is very uncommon, it could prove critical in understanding hair loss. The disease is inherited and affects both men and women; sufferers generally begin to go bald during childhood.
Hypotrichosis is caused by a genetic defect that prevents receptors on the surface of hair follicle from properly forming. In a normal hair follicle, messenger proteins bind to these receptors and trigger a chain reaction in the cell interior that is needed for the hair follicle to function normally.
Researchers have already identified the endogenous messenger protein that binds to the receptor and are now searching for related substances that may be used in hair loss therapies. G-protein-coupled receptors are particularly receptive to drug treatment – good news for those going bald.