Gene mapping for hair loss

With more and more young people losing hair compared to the generations past, the numbers seeking medical treatment too have gone up. This has made hair treatment techniques and concepts popular. 

Published: 18th December 2013 11:42 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th December 2013 11:42 AM   |  A+A-

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With more and more young people losing hair compared to the generations past, the numbers seeking medical treatment too have gone up. This has made hair treatment techniques and concepts popular. 

Hairline International Research and Treatment Centre has come up with a new approach to hair loss by testing for genetic susceptibility. Doctors from the institute claim that the test, involving genetic mapping to check for the presence of particular genetic sequences, can be used to take preventive measures for those who are at risk of premature baldness.

“There could be several causes for baldness, or alopecia as it is medically termed, among both men and women. One of them is genetic make up, especially among those who have a family history of baldness,” says dermatologist and surgeon Dr Dinesh G Gowda, who works at the centre. He adds that the results of the test could indicate at what age the individual can go bald.

“Then, there are certain triggers that could hasten the process, so we might ask them to make lifestyle changes - meditating and practising yoga to reduce stress, eating a lot of green, leafy vegetables - or even prescribe medication. Supplements like vitamin B3, B12 or biotin could also help,” adds Gowda.

However, he allows that the test, which is conducted by taking samples of blood or saliva and takes over a month to determine results, does not guarantee 100 per cent accuracy.

“There could be false positives as well as false negatives, and as it costs about `30,000, it is generally not feasible to conduct it more than once. We are very clear with our clients about this - the accuracy is between 70 to 80 per cent. When correlated with clinical reports, the diagnosis would be 90 to 95 per cent accurate,” he says.

Says Dr Kaushik Deb, senior cell and molecular biologist with Merisis Therapeutics that is handling the lab and research side of the project, “Now it no longer means that if you are genetically more vulnerable to a particular defect or disease, you cannot be helped. The more you know, the better you can help prevent it. True, there have been studies (on hair loss) with samples from China or the US, but this does not necessarily apply to Indians. Further, the ethnic diversity of Indians too has to be taken into consideration,” he says, adding that a treatment that could work for a Maharashtrian might not for a Gujarati. He believes that learning of genetic susceptibility could lead to personalised treatment of not just premature baldness but also other disorders related to skin such as psoriasis.

“It’s not all simple - it isn’t about whether a particular gene is present or not, it’s about the combinations and the interaction of each gene with the rest in the group,” he adds.

 

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