This Is Why We Have Gray Hair

This Is Why We Have Gray Hair
Observe Hernán Piñera / FlickrCC BY-SA 2.0
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The field of genetics, or the branch of science that basically studies genes, has dramatically improved over the past decades to the point that researchers have identified a genetic relationship between almost every illness. But just recently, a team of researchers from the University College London (UCL), for the first time, had identified the single gene that’s responsible for gray hair.


The study, as reported by the UCL, was published in the Nature Communication Wednesday. According to the study, the specific gene that’s behind the hair into gray is known as IRF4. Although dermatologists and other experts in the medical field are aware that the decreased level of melanin usually causes the gray colored hair, no other explanation is available before this study. Melanin is a pigment that gives color to the hair.

What’s interesting about the study was that it’s the first time that a single gene has been identified to explain the grayish color of the hair. The study, which had at least 6,000 participants, also investigated the link of genes to other common hair conditions including balding and even mono-brows.

In a separate report published by the UCL, Dr Kaustubh Adhikari, who led the UCL research team said their study was by far the first one to identify specific gene that’s responsible for several hair conditions. This, according to Adhikari, means a lot to the entire medical community and even in the field of forensics.

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“It was only possible because we analyzed a diverse melting pot of people, which hasn’t been done before on this scale. These findings have potential forensic and cosmetic applications as we increase our knowledge on how genes influence the way we look,” Adhikari was quoted as saying by the UCL report. Another unique thing about Adhikari’s study was the fact that it included participants from various races such as those from Asia, Latin America, and Europe, unlike previous similar studies that only included participants with European descent.