For many men, baldness is an inevitable part of ageing. Now, scientists at the University of Edinburgh think they know why.
The new study - the largest ever analysis of hair loss - has identified nearly 300 genes that contribute to the potentially embarrassing condition.
Based on the DNA of 52,000 men, the findings could pave the way for a genetic test to determine someone’s chances of baldness and even new treatments.
Saskia Hagenaars, a PhD student from The University of Edinburgh, who jointly led the research, said: “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.”
While the ability to predict an individual’s chances of baldness is a little way off, the researchers can now identify sub-groups of the population at greater risk.
Before the study, which was published in PLOS Genetics, only a handful of genes related to baldness had been identified.
The latest findings reveal dozens of genes related to hair structure, which could offer targets for drugs to treat baldness and similar conditions.
The study’s principal investigator, Dr Riccardo Marioni, from the University of Edinburgh, said: “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.”