We all have that one friend who has been going grey since he or she was in their early twenties. Some of us suffer a serious case of shock when we spot the first one while others are totally cool with rocking the salt and pepper look.
Whatever the response, the good news is that scientists have isolated the gene that is linked to grey hair. The discovery, they hope, will help one day stop our hair from going grey even before it comes out of our head.
Mic reports that the grey hair gene is called IRF4. To pinpoint it, scientists examined the hair of 6,630 volunteers from five Latin American countries — a mix of people of European, Native American and African descent with a broad spectrum of hair types.
When those grey or white speckles start to appear it’s because hair follicles gradually run out of pigment to color our hair black, brown, red or whatever our natural hue may be. According to CNN, IRF4 “probably acts like a cog in the machine in a cellular process that churns out melanin pigment in the hair follicle.”
But the bad news is that it’s not just in your genes. The study found that genes controlled just 30 percent of greying. The other 70 percent is casued by environmental factors, such as stress, smoking, pollution and spending too much time in the sun.
The good news is that now that the gene has been isolated, scientists can start working on a cure. While we currently buy products to help change our hair after it appears – usually box dye or an expensive trip to the hair dresser – researches hope to one day find a way to stop that grey hair in its tracks.
“There is currently great interest in exploring whether hair appearance can be modified as it is formed in the hair follicle,” researchers wrote. “This includes evaluating whether hair graying could be slowed or blocked, and elucidating the mechanism by which IRF4 influences hair graying could provide targets of intervention for this purpose.”
source: The South African