Follow us twitter facebook
Edition: Global
Click here to subscribe toour free weekly newsletter click here
Science, R&D

Gene holds key to (no) grey hair: study

Dyeing one’s hair may no longer be the only option for keeping grey at bay, scientists said Tuesday in announcing the discovery of a gene that makes hair lose its lustre.

The gene, IRF4, was known to affect skin and hair colour through melanin production. Photo: © Monkey Business Images / shutterstock.com

The gene, IRF4, was known to affect skin and hair colour through melanin production. Photo: © Monkey Business Images / shutterstock.com

The gene, IRF4, was known to affect skin and hair colour through melanin production, but a new study is the first to pinpoint its unique role in the inexorable transition to shades of grey. Further research on precisely how IRF4 works could unlock techniques and treatments that slow or even halt that process, said the scientists.

An initial avenue has to do with the role IRF4 could play in survival and maintenance of cells that make pigment,” said Andres Ruiz-Linares, a professor at the University College London Genetics Institute who led the study published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Communications. Understanding how the gene interacts with other genes controlling hair colour, for example, might yield cosmetic applications that block the fade to grey as hair grows in the follicle, he told AFP.

To undertake the analysis, scientists did a so-called genome-wide association scan (GWAS) of 6,630 volunteers in Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Mexico and Peru, matching similarities in their DNA with physical traits. But rather than selecting subjects that shared a common ancestry - all northern Europeans or Japanese, for example - the researchers deliberately mixed things up. Nearly half the participants were of European background, 40 per cent were Native American, and six per cent were of recent African origin.

Depending on ancestry, people tend to go grey at different stages in their lives, the study found. “The average age of hair greying for Caucasians is in the mid-30s,” Ruiz-Linares told AFP. For East Asians, the loss of colour starts in their late 30s, and for sub-Saharan Africans, in their mid- 40s. Likewise, the greying process is said to be “premature” if it starts before the age of 20 in people of European background, and before 25 and 30 among Asians and Africans, respectively.

Further research on precisely how IRF4 works could unlock techniques and treatments that slow or even halt that process, said the scientists. Photo: © Yuri Arcurs / shutterstock.com

Further research on precisely how IRF4 works could unlock techniques and treatments that slow or even halt that process, said the scientists. Photo: © Yuri Arcurs / shutterstock.com

Setting aside unresolved ethical issues, one could even “wildly contemplate” the use of gene editing, an ultra-precise cut-and-paste process for altering DNA sequences, he said. But the IRF4 variant that favours grey also produces fair hair, he cautioned, so tinking with the gene could also mean fewer blondes.

The size and original design of the research yielded a trove of new results. Another gene, PRSS53, for example, was found to influence curliness, shedding light on the evolution of hair shape that led to straight hair in East Asia and among Native Americans.

A variant of a third gene, PAX3, was strongly associated with “mono-brow”, the tendency - especially among men - for eyebrows to be joined by a bridge of facial hair.

Premium Beauty News with AFP/Relaxnews

© 2016 - Premium Beauty News - www.premiumbeautynews.com
latest news
Focus
Luxe Pack New York is moving to The Javits Center for the 2019 edition, to be held May 15-16

Luxe Pack prepares for its second Los Angeles edition and announces new venue in New York

With the beginning of a successful extension in California, 2018 proved to be a momentous year for Luxe Pack, the business to business tradeshow dedicated to luxury packaging. The event will return to Los Angeles for its second edition on February 27-28, 2019 officially putting it on the map as a West Coast industry destination. (...)

read more
job opportunities
Experts’ views
New “Japonism”: a rising beauty trend

Caroline Moulin
New “Japonism”: a rising beauty trend

In France, 2018 was marked by successive exhibitions and cultural events dedicated to Japan to celebrate 160 years of friendship between the two countries. The “Japonismes en France” series held from Nov.22 to Dec.2, 2018, ended on a high note, with the opening of the Shiseido Japanese Beauty Station, a pop-up store which highlighted (...)

read more

Features

We use cookies to give you a better browsing experience. By continuing your visit to this site, you accept the use of cookies. Read more and set cookies
close