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Lipid-Producing Gene Marked as Regulator of Hair Growth

Genetic study finds common deletion in LIPH gene responsible for production of bioactive lipids

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers have identified the phospholipase gene LIPH as an important regulator of hair growth, according to a report in the Nov. 10 issue of Science. The gene regulates the production of bioactive lipids and may be a new therapeutic target for hair loss.

Anastasiya Kazantseva, of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Mass., and colleagues in the U.S. and Russia screened 350,000 people in the Volga-Ural region of Russia, known to be susceptible to a genetic form of hair-growth deficiency.

The investigators found that affected individuals were homozygous for a deletion in the LIPH gene caused by a retrotransposon insertion. LIPH expression is prominent in hair follicles including the stem cell-rich bulge region and is responsible for producing lipids involved in cell signaling processes that regulate proliferation, apoptosis and cytoskeletal organization.

"The identification of a genetic defect in LIPH suggests that this enzyme regulates hair growth and therefore may be a potential target for the development of a therapeutic agent for the control of hair loss or growth," the authors conclude.

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