Oct. 13, 2008 -- Scientists have discovered six gene variants, all on the
same chromosome, that are linked to male-pattern baldness.
Those findings, published in the advance online edition of Nature
Genetics, may provide some new leads for researchers developing new
treatments for baldness.
"Clearly, most men know if they are bald or not, but early prediction before
hair loss starts may lead to
some interesting therapies that are more effective than treating late-stage
hair loss," researcher Tim Spector, a professor at King's College London, says
in a news release.
The new discoveries come from two studies, which together included more than
3,400 men and women in Western Europe. The researchers compared the genes of
people with and without male-pattern baldness.
One study identified a gene variant that, when accompanied by another
baldness gene variant on the androgen receptor gene, drove the odds of
male-pattern baldness seven times higher. One man in seven has both of those
gene variants, according to the researchers, who included Spector. That study
was funded in part by drug company GlaxoSmithKline; one of the researchers (not
Spector) is a GlaxoSmithKline employee.
The study flagged five other gene variants that are associated with
male-pattern baldness and are on the same chromosome as the variant found by
Spector and colleagues.
No one knows yet what those gene variants do or how they affect baldness.
Figuring that out could inspire new treatments, the researchers note.