This is Getting Hairy

Hypertrichosis genetic mutation may cause excessive hair growth

(RxWiki News) Hypertrichosis, an inherited genetic disorder, results in an extremely large amount of hair growth on the body. Extreme cases of hypertrichosis have  been deemed the "werewolf syndrome".

Over 16 years of research, scientists from the University of Southern California (USC) and China have located gene mutations which go along with chronic hypertrichosis.

"New treatments for balding people may be available soon."

Pragna Patel, professor in the Keck School, the USC Institute for Genetic Medicine, and the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC, is a co-investigator of the study shares that in 1995, researchers had traced the approximate location of the mutation responsible for CGH to a section of the X chromosome in a Mexican family.

Patel, whose laboratory focuses on genetic heredity continues to say that  they sequenced nearly 100 genes but could not find any mutations.

Recently, Xue Zhang, professor and chair of medical genetics at the Peking Union Medical College and his colleagues in Beijing were able to pinpoint the exact location of the mutation, discovering that there was an insertion of chromosome 5 into the X chromosome in a Chinese family.

When the test family was examined, a piece of chromosome 4 was found to be inserted into the same part of the X chromosome. This confirms that these extremely rare events caused the disorder.

Patel continues to report that the significance of the palindromic sequence is still unknown. However, its presence creates iinstability and can be entirely absent in many individuals with normal hair growth.

The excessive hair growth occurs only when there is insertion of certain chromosome segments at this identified.

Patel observes that somehow this dormant gene is reactivated, and can manifest the excessive hair growth. Knowledge regarding why this happens with CGH is still not known.

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Review Date: 
June 5, 2011