There are multiple studies conducted on the subject of hair, in particular for the cause of the color and thickness, but also baldness. All of these properties of the hair are caused by particular genes. Many of these genes work together in order to be expressed. Five different genes are responsible for the color of the hair, which together determine the hair color. These genes probably don’t operate alone but under the influence of other factors. What these factors are exactly, remains to be investigated.
What about the greying of the hair? There is an interesting development in the research into the greying of the hair. The gene that causes the hair to start greying, has recently been identified. This gene, called IRF4, also contributes to determining the color of the hair, regulates pigmentation in the hair, and in addition also in the skin and eyes. It is responsible for the regulation and production of melanin. When too little melanin is produced, the pigment in the hair is fading and making the hair turn grey. But why does the greying (usually) start later in life and not when we are young?
What can we do with this knowledge?
There are two applications of this knowledge, which could have a great influence. The most obvious application is in the cosmetics industry. When the specific working of the gene and the enzymes it produces are studied, the cosmetics industry wants to use the information to develop a product that will stop or postpone the greying of the hair. More research is needed to get this specific information.
Another application is a little less obvious. This knowledge may also be used in forensics. With the data from the DNA, a visual image can be made. If DNA of a perpetrator of a crime is found, his picture can be constructed with the use of his DNA. This makes the search easier.
Do you have any other ideas on how this knowledge can be applied? Share it with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read the full study here.