Scientists from China and the USA have identified a genetic region linked to 'werewolf syndrome'.
Researchers from the University of Southern California, USA, working with scientists Prof. Dr. Xue Zhang of medical genetics at the Peking Union Medical College from Beijing, China, studied the genome of a Chinese man with ‘Hypertrichosis’ and identified a defective region of the X chromosome they believe is linked to the condition. As per the discovery the man had an extra stretch of DNA known as an 'inserted-sequence' in a region very close to SOX3, a gene known to be involved in hair growth. The inserted sequence had altered the activity of SOX3, leading to excessive hair growth.
The finding was also confirmed in a Mexican family, in which several members had ‘Hypertrichosis’. But in this case, although the location of the insertion was the same, the 'inserted sequence' itself was not the same as in the Chinese man. This suggests it is the region of the X chromosome that is more important in controlling hair growth, rather than the exact defect itself.
This study may lead to improvements in the treatment of Hypertrichosis, but the researchers also hope the discovery could lead to treatments for male pattern baldness. Prof. Pragna Patel, who is also the part of the stufy, from the University of Southern California told the Daily Mail: 'If in fact the inserted sequences turn on a gene that can trigger hair growth, it may hold promise for treating baldness'.
The study was published in the American Journal of Human Genetics.