The findings of a Edinburgh University study employing “big data” to look into the genetic markers for baldness have provided real insight into the subject. We take a closer look.

 

UK Biobank

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Biobank is a remarkable British facility. It was set up as a charity by a group including The Wellcome Trust, The British Heart Foundation, Diabetes UK and several Government institutions. Between the years of 2006 and 2010 they recruited 500,000 people between the ages of 40 and 69. The volunteers provided blood, urine and saliva which, along with a lot of personal information. The idea is to make this data available to research teams from all over the world and aid their investigations into the root genetic causes for many diseases.

University of Edinburgh

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With access to that UK Biobank data, a team from the University of Edinburgh set about creating a formula that would predict male pattern baldness according to the presence, or absence, of particular genetic markers. If successful they would have been able to provide a straightforward DNA test capable of accurately predicting any individual’s risk of early onset baldness. The team tested and compared the data from no less than 52,000 men to arrive at their findings. An incredible sample size that would have been unthinkable until relatively recently.

While they were unfortunately unable to achieve that noble ambition they did make some important discoveries. For starters, it turns out baldness is way more complicated than you might imagine. The team found no less than 287 “genetic regions” that were linked to baldness… many of them to the structure and development of hair.

Importantly, they also found that 14% of the genes associated with balding were on the X chromosome… where women carry two X chromosomes and men one each of both X and Y. Crucially many of the genes from the X chromosome are linked to early onset balding. So it is not a safe assumption that because your Dad went bald you will follow in his footsteps… but baldness does definitely run in families.

HIS Hair Clinic

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We are delighted to read that serious research is being performed in this area, the insights that come from this research will eventually be what inspires a large pharmaceutical company to produce a meaningful hair loss product, and doctors to develop gene therapy options that would guarantee its avoidance.

In the meantime, if you want to do something about your own hair loss then you could do no better than meeting one of our friendly team of experts at a free consultation. Simply complete the contact form at the side of this page or click here to find your nearest clinic.

 

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By Ian Watson

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