X-Men: First Class, a film about individuals with genetic mutations, has become this year's summer blockbuster. While the thought of genetic mutations isn't far fetched, the idea of switching them on to benefit ourselves still seems to be the stuff of movies. However, that hasn't stopped scientists from thinking about it and investigating further.
A team of U.S. and Chinese researchers began studying excess hair growth and the genes behind it issue.
Researchers in China discovered that the mutation, known congenital hypertrichosis syndrome
(CGH), in a Chinese family. Males with this disorder have hair covering their entire face including their eyelids and their upper body, while females have thick patches of hair on their bodies. These findings were confirmed when they found the same mutation in a Mexican family dealing with CGH.
According to Pragna Patel, professor in the Keck School, of the University of Southern California, "When the Mexican family was examined, a piece of chromosome 4 was found to be inserted into the same part of the X chromosome, thus confirming that these extremely rare events caused the disorder."
Identifying genes has long been a goal for scientist because there is the chance that down the line these genes can be activated to produce different results in humans. The benefits of this would mean that you wouldn't have to have your scalp injected with pig bladder
, deal with hair transplants like famous Footballer Wayne Rooney
, or go through chemical/pills to try and help hair growth
"If in fact the inserted sequences turn on a gene that can trigger hair growth, it may hold promise for treating baldness or hirsutism (excessive hair growth) in the future, especially if we could engineer ways to achieve this with drugs or other means," says Dr. Patel.