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gene research •

Researchers managed to locate the genes that are responsible for gray hair.

(Mirror Daily, United States) – Nothing is random when it comes to Mother’s Nature design. So if you though the girl in your math class had a unibrow because she just didn’t like plucking as much as you did, then you’re in for a surprise. Scientists pinned down the gene that turns hair gray, curly, and yes, the one that causes people to develop a unibrow.

The paper published in the Nature Communications magazine on Tuesday revealed that various genes determine the color of our hair, its discoloration pattern, the thickness of men’s beards, the shape of our eyebrows and even the hair loss process.

The author of the study, a professor at the London College University said that the discovery was possible because he and his team studied a very broad and diverse sample of individuals.

The sample was made out of roughly 6300 people from some Latin American countries. This allowed the researchers to cover a wide array of ethnic backgrounds.

They studied innate traits and then compared the hair properties with their respective genomes. By doing this, the researchers were able to pin down the genes that were correlated with the similar traits.

According to the cited study, the IRF4 gene is responsible for the gray filter our hair receives when we get older. This is the same gene that influences the color of an individual’s hair by regulating the amounts of melanin (our body’s pigment that influences the color of skin, eyes and hair).

But the gene itself does not directly cause the apparition of gray hair. The IRF4 gene’s presence, which was already established to be linked with pale shades of hair, only influences the cells to stop producing the natural pigment.

Gray hair is caused by a multitude of factors. First of all, the individual must have the IRF4 gene; then there are outside factors that significantly influence the time in which the fading hair color starts to appear. For example smoking and stress contribute to an early onset of pigmentation loss.

Other discoveries mentioned in the study include the FOXL2 gene which is linked to bushy eyebrows, the EDAR gene that makes the head hair straight and the facial hair sparse, and the PRSS53, which is responsible for the curly hair effect.

Scientists pinned down the gene that turns hair gray, and there are numerous applications for Adhikari’s research. Some are forensic, some cosmetic. But both have to wait for further research to be conducted.

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