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Large Genomic Study Identifies Genetic Markers for Male Baldness

THE RESULTS of a large genomic study using data from over 52,000 males has identified over 250 independent genetic loci associated with pattern baldness.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK, examined genomic and health data from thousands of male participants of the UK Biobank to learn more about the genetic architecture of the condition which causes severe hair loss. Their findings could aid in future work to identify those at greatest risk of hair loss, and potential genetic targets for intervention.

After identifying 287 genetic regions linked to the condition, Dr Riccardo Marioni and the team developed a prediction algorithm that would discriminate between participants with no hair loss and severe hair loss bald based on these markers (AUC = 0.78). By splitting the cohort into a discovery sample of 40,000 and target sample of 12,000, the performance of the algorithm was AUC = 0.78. In the study paper, the team explained that of those with a genetic score in the top 10% of the distribution, 58% reported moderate-to-severe hair loss. “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. The findings pave the way for an improved understanding of the genetic causes of hair loss,” said Dr Marioni.

Many of the genes identified were related to hair structure and development and could provide a possible target for drug development to treat male pattern baldness and related conditions. Saskia Hagenaars, one of the researchers involved in the study, also added: “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.”

Jack Redden, Reporter

Keywords: Genetics, Hair Loss, Male Pattern Baldness, UK Biobank