The study, published in Science, doesn't blame hair loss solely on the LIPH gene. People can lose their hair for many reasons, and other genes may also be involved.
Still, the LIPH gene stood out in a hair-loss study by researchers including Evgeny Rogaev, Ph.D., Dr.Sci.
Rogaev is a psychiatry professor specializing in genetics at University of Massachusetts medical School.
He and his colleagues studied healthy people from 50 unrelated families in Russia with a condition of inherited hair loss and slow-growing hair. Those participants were part of a much bigger genetic study of more than 350,000 Russians.
Participants with inherited hair loss and slow-growing hair had a glitch in their LIPH gene, the study shows.
The LIPH gene makes LIPH, a protein that isn't thoroughly understood but seems to play a role in normal hair formation and growth, according to Rogaev's team.
The LIPH gene glitch appears to hamper the hair-growth process and "may be a potential target" for the development of new hair-loss drugs, note Rogaev and colleagues.
SOURCES: Kazantseva, A. Science, Nov. 10, 2006; vol 314: pp 982-985. News release, Science.
By Miranda Hitti
Reviewed by Louise Chang