London: Scientists have identified more than 200 new genetic regions linked with male pattern baldness, which could be used to predict a man’s chances of severe hair loss. Before this new study, led by researchers at University of Edinburgh in the UK, only a handful of genes related to baldness had been identified.
The scientists examined genomic and health data from over 52,000 male participants of the UK Biobank, performing a genome-wide association study of baldness. They pinpointed 287 genetic regions linked to this common but potentially embarrassing condition which could be used to predict a man’s chance of severe hair loss.
The researchers created a formula to try and predict the chance that a person will go bald, based on the presence or absence of certain genetic markers. Accurate predictions for an individual are still some way off, but the results can help to identify sub-groups of the population for which the risk of hair loss is much higher.
The study is the largest genetic analysis of male pattern baldness to date. Many of the identified genes are related to hair structure and development. They could provide possible targets for drug development to treat baldness or related conditions.
“We identified hundreds of new genetic signals. It was interesting to find that many of the genetics signals for male pattern baldness came from the X chromosome, which men inherit from their mothers,” said Saskia Hagenaars, a PhD student at Edinburgh, who jointly led the research.
“We are still a long way from making an accurate prediction for an individual’s hair loss pattern. However, these results take us one step closer. The findings pave the way for an improved understanding of the genetic causes of hair loss,” said study’s principal investigator, Dr Riccardo Marioni, from Edinburgh. The study was published in the journal PLOS Genetics.