Scientists have discovered over hundreds of genes that determine human hair color variation, according to a study conducted on April 16, 2018.
This study was conducted by a team of scientists led by academics from King’s College London and Erasmus MC University Medical Center Rotterdam. This discovery will help in the understanding of complex gene formation that are responsible for differences in human pigmentation. Also, it will help in understanding the conditions linked to pigmentation such as skin, testicular, prostate and ovarian cancers.
Studies have been conducted earlier on the same, however, a dozen of hair color genes were only identified. Moreover, previous studies have determined that a large percentage of hair color variation is explained by heritable factors. This study clearly explains the genetic knowledge gap. As a part of the study, DNA data of around 300,000 people of European descent were analyzed by the researchers. Information regarding their hair color was also collected. The data was supplied by UK Biobank, 23andMe Inc., the International Visible Trait Genetics Consortium and their study partners.
After comparing the hair color of the group with their genetic information, 124 genes that are involved in the development of hair color were found by the researchers. Out of these, over 100 genes were not previously known to influence pigmentation. According to the scientists, the new information of genes is more accurate in predicting hair color when compared to the previously known genes.
Tim Spector, professor from King’s College London said, “This work will impact several fields of biology and medicine. As the largest ever genetic study on pigmentation, it will improve our understanding of diseases like melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer.”