First Grey Hair Gene is Discovered

March 2016

The Institute of Trichologists’ Vice President Professor Tobin recently collaborated in an international study that reported on the discovery of several genes associated with hair traits, including the first grey hair gene.

The study was lead by UCL and Professor Tobin’s collaborative research was carried out at The University of Bradford.

The finding of the IRF4 gene variation responsible for grey hair that was associated with greying hair reveals for the first time that grey hair has a genetic component additional to environmental factors. IRF4 is associated with the storing and regulation of melanin, the colour pigment responsible for hair, skin and eye colour.

The cessation of melanin is what causes hair to grey, therefore scientists can now investigate the IRF4’s role of this. More knowledge could lead to developing new cosmetic applications that could alter the appearance of a growing hair in the follicle by slowing down or blocking the greying process of the hair.

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