Researchers from the University College London in England report that they have finally found the first gene linked with grey hair.
Forensic and cosmetic applications
After analysing the genetics of more than 6 000 people of mixed ancestry in Latin America, they are now sure that your genes play a role in the greying of your hair, but also how genes influence your hair shape and density.
Study author Kaustubh Adhikari said: "We already know several genes involved in balding and hair colour, but this is the first time a gene for greying has been identified in humans."
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Analysing a diverse mix of people has never been done on this scale and the findings have great potential for developing forensic and cosmetic applications.
The gene linked with grey hair is called IRF4 and though researcher knew this gene plays a role in determining our hair colour, it's now for the first time linked to the greying of hair
The study not only helps researchers understand why hair greys, but allows possibilities of finding ways of delaying hair greying.
Another gene, called PRSS53, was also found and this one seems to influence hair curliness.
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"It has long been speculated that hair features could have been influenced by some form of selection, such as natural or sexual selection, and we found statistical evidence in the genome supporting that view," Adhikari said.
"The genes we have identified are unlikely to work in isolation to cause greying or straight hair, or thick eyebrows, but have a role to play along with many other factors yet to be identified," he said.
Nature Communications, 1 March 2016, http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2016/160301/ncomms10815/full/ncomms10815.html
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