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Columbia geneticists uncover new gene involved in determining hair texture and density in humans
Date:2/25/2008

NEW YORK (Feb. 25, 2008) A Columbia University Medical Center research team has discovered a new gene involved in determining hair texture in humans. The team's genetic analysis demonstrated that mutations in a gene, known as P2RY5, cause hereditary "woolly hair" hair that is coarse, dry, tightly curled and sparse.

"Our findings indicate that mutations in the P2RY5 gene cause hereditary woolly hair. This is significant as it represents the discovery of the first new gene whose primary function seems to be the determination of hair texture in humans," said lead author Angela M. Christiano, Ph.D., the Richard and Mildred Rhodebeck Professor of Dermatology and Genetics & Development, at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

"This genetic finding may inform the development of new treatments for excessive or unwanted hair, or potentially hair growth." added Dr. Christiano.

Findings were published in an online edition of Nature Genetics at 1 p.m. EST on Sunday, February 24, 2008. The paper will appear in the journal's March print issue.

The genetic causes of hair texture in humans are largely unknown. Hair shafts emerge from the surface of the skin and display wide variability in texture and color among individuals of different populations around the world.

Since research has shown that woolly hair was common among Pakistani families, Dr. Christiano and her colleagues set out to determine why this type of hair was specific to this group of people. They hoped that finding the genetic basis of this unique type of hair would help them to distinguish other genetic hair types, and to learn more about the genetic underpinnings of different hair textures.

Much of Dr. Christiano's research has focused on dermatologic variants found in Pakistani families, as they often represent ideal subjects for genetic analyses as they tend to be relatively homogeneous, with close-knit families that tend to
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Contact: Elizabeth Streich
eas2125@columbia.edu
212-305-6535
Columbia University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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