Just like those first silvery strands that stubbornly start cropping up in an otherwise pleasantly pigmented head of hair, the genes responsible for gray hair have been evading science’s grasp.
Brunettes, redheads, towheads — they all have snippets in the DNA they can thank, or curse. But for those robbed of their hair color, the genetic suspect was at large.
Now researchers may have tracked down the first gene linked to gray hair, a search involving the hair types and genomes of more than 6,000 people living in five Latin American countries. They looked in these populations because they represent a good mix of backgrounds: Europeans and their sometimes fair or curly hair, Native Americans and African-Americans and their characteristic dark and straight or kinky hair.
Many people already know they face increased risk of going gray at an early age, if they’ve seen older relatives do so. The current study adds more support to the notion that graying is genetic, said Kaustubh Adhikari, a research associate in cell and developmental biology at University College London. Adhikari is the lead author of the study, which was published on Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.
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SOURCE: CNN, Carina Storrs