New ‘grey hair’ gene discovery could make silver locks history

Washington D.C, Mar 2 (ANI): With the discovery of the first ever ‘grey hair’ gene, the days of going grey could soon be over.

A study analysed a population of over 6,000 people with varied ancestry across Latin America to identify new genes associated with hair colour, greying, density and shape, i.e. straight or curly.

Lead author, Dr Kaustubh Adhikari said that they already know several genes involved in balding and hair colour, but this is the first time a gene for greying has been identified in humans, as well as other genes influencing hair shape and density.

Adhikari noted that it was only possible because they analysed a diverse melting pot of people, which hasn’t been done before on this scale. These findings have potential forensic and cosmetic applications as we increase our knowledge on how genes influence the way we look.

The gene identified for grey hair, IRF4, is known to play a role in hair colour but this is the first time it has been associated with the greying of hair. This gene is involved in regulating production and storage of melanin, the pigment that determines hair, skin and eye colour. Hair greying is caused by an absence of melanin in hair so the scientists want to find out IRF4’s role in this process.

Understanding how IRF4 influences hair greying could help the development of new cosmetic applications that change the appearance of hair as it grows in the follicle by slowing or blocking the greying of hair.

The study is published in Nature Communications. (ANI)

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