New Gene Responsible for Male-Pattern Baldness Identified

By Dialogo
April 16, 2010

What we want to know is what kind of substances and drugs can stimulate the WNT pathway to promote the growth of follicles and solve the baldness problem. There are no known substances or drugs that can block the gene that causes baldness or silence it through epigenetic substances. The WNT pathway is one that may be linked to prostate cancer. Researchers have identified a new gene involved in hair growth, a discovery that may open the way to future treatments for male-pattern baldness and other forms of hair loss, according to a study published in the journal Nature. The team, led by Angela Christiano (Columbia University, United States), identified a gene called APCDD1 that causes a rare form of hair loss, hereditary hypotrichosis simplex. This disease is the result of hair-follicle miniaturization, a process also observed in male-pattern baldness: individual hairs are increasingly thinner. “The identification of this gene underlying hereditary hypotrichosis simplex has afforded us an opportunity to gain insight into the process of hair-follicle miniaturization, which is most commonly observed in male-pattern hair loss,” Angela Christiano indicated. Nevertheless, "it is important to note that while these two conditions share the same physiologic process, the gene we discovered for hereditary hypotrichosis does not explain the complex process of male-pattern baldness,” she added. The identification of the APCDD1 gene was possible thanks to the analysis of the genetic data of a number of Pakistani and Italian families who carry the gene that causes hereditary hypotrichosis simplex. The researchers discovered a mutation in the APCDD1 gene, located in a region of chromosome 18, which has been suggested by previous studies to be involved in other forms of hair loss. The researchers showed that the APCDD1 gene inhibits a cellular signaling pathway known as Wnt, the role of which in the control of hair growth has been demonstrated in mice. “These findings suggest that manipulating the Wnt pathway may have an effect on hair-follicle growth - for the first time, in humans,” Angela Christiano declared.